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When a Brand Crisis Hits the Headlines – How Deep Is Its Impact?

By Lauren Mecca | Small Business

Carnival Cruise Lines: Trouble in Paradise?

A brand can better shape its response and prepare for financial implications associated with a brand crisis with a comprehensive understanding of its public perception over time. But there are often broader consequences to be considered, and the wealth of social media data published each day offers a multitude of opportunities to measure and strategically respond to these impacts.

ForSight’s social media analysis platform allows brands to easily visualize and follow shifts in sentiment caused by high-profile accidents such as the fire on board the Carnival Triumph in February of 2013. While the cruise ship drifted without electricity through the Gulf of Mexico, consumers and onlookers shared a variety of reactions online in a conversation that totaled 82,000 Twitter posts in one week:

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From Carnival management’s standpoint, this conversation might not look so bad. It certainly could be worse: only 1% express an intent to disengage with Carnival over the incident. Most of the criticism was directed at Carnival in a joking form (8%), often associating Carnival with other institutions whose reputations are suffering:

When a Brand Crisis Hits the Headlines – How Deep Is Its Impact? image Carnival Brand Crisis TweetsCarnival Brand Crisis Tweets

Most emphasis is placed on the passengers’ well being (40%), and many were shocked by the conditions described on board (26%). A finding that would be comforting to Carnival is the extent of praise for the brand’s response to the crisis, which made up a sizeable 24% of the conversation. Appreciation for Carnival’s reaction outweighed denunciation (1%), indicating a PR response worthy of praise.

The Effects of Crisis on Brand Perception

With a more comprehensive look at the social media activity surrounding Carnival’s brand, we learn that over the past year, conversation about Carnival Cruises sways negative (57%):

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Specific drivers of negative opinions range from impressions that Carnival cruises are tacky and low quality (26%) to claims that Carnival cruises are unsafe and unsanitary (31%). On the positive side (45%), people tend to turn to Twitter with general excitement about a particular Carnival cruise (18%).
With ForSight’s social media analysis platform, Carnival and its competitors can not only gauge the health of their own brands but sentiment towards the cruise industry as a whole. Studying the same conversation trends at the broader industry level can help brands gauge strengths and weaknesses relative to a useful benchmark.

Industry Analysis

The cruise industry conversation uncannily aligns with Carnival’s:

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One fascinating difference occurs the week of February 10, when the Carnival Triumph had the fire. The cruise industry actually suffers from a significantly larger spike in negative opinions:

When a Brand Crisis Hits the Headlines – How Deep Is Its Impact? image 66

While it is still too soon to know the financial damage done to both the brand and the industry, there is a clear case for following these data closely as Carnival and other members of the industry try to stay afloat through rough waters.

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