It’s that time of year when flowers are often portrayed in a negative light to give a competitive edge to other products vying for Valentine’s Day spending dollars.
As the voice of the floral industry, the Society of American Florists responds to news publications and businesses that disparage fresh flowers. In such instances, SAF asks companies promote products based on their own merits and key selling points, instead of making unnecessary and unfair remarks about flowers.
Last year SAF responded to ads from the New York Times, a boutique bath products company, a high-end jeweler, and many other businesses. Not all businesses agreed with SAF’s position, but some responded with a positive message. Global textile company Boll and Branch apologized for a disparaging marketing email subject line. “I’m so sorry about this,” wrote a representative, who noted she has family members who work in the industry. “Our goal and intention was never to impact the flower industry.”
Members of the floral community can make a big impact by reaching out directly to the source and communicating the impact this type of advertising can have on small businesses. After SAF member Fawn Mueller, CF, of Inspired by Nature Floral Design, in Wausau, WI, reached out to a local bakery about a jab at flowers in their Facebook ad, the owners removed the negative reference to flowers from their caption.
When responding to respond to negative advertising, here a few tips to write an effective response:
- Be objective, diplomatic, and reasonable. Describe why you find the article or advertisement offensive or unfair. Explain that you believe in the effectiveness of articles and advertisements that promote products based on their own merits.
- Don’t sound defensive. That approach will only make it seem as though the negativity toward flowers was justified.
- Don’t make unreasonable demands. Unless an article contains a factual error, don’t demand that it be retracted.
- Suggest a middle-ground approach that the article or advertisement could take in the future. You might point out that instead of the phrase, “Don’t buy flowers,” the message could be, “Flowers are one of many gift choices..…”
Elizabeth Daly is the marketing and communications manager for the Society of American Florists.