Lately I have been really getting into the idea as a businessperson, brand or marketer, you need to embrace the negative way more than the positive. I have just completed two mini MBAs with former marketing professor Mark Ritson, who argues as part of brand awareness, you must define, measure and track your negative brand associations as well as your positive ones.

For example, consider these negative associations: “anyone that owns a BMW is a selfish driver”, “people who wear Superdry have no imagination”, “Apple are not as innovative as they were”, “Ryanair are cheap and nasty” and “Wetherspoons has sticky carpets”.

The last one is particularly interesting as Wetherspoons surely doesn’t have sticky carpets, but these brand associations still live in people’s minds, and was even mentioned recently on Have I Got News for You.

Socrates said “know thyself” and that is the good stuff and the bad stuff. You need to be aware of it all, strengthening the good brand associations and reducing the negative brand associations. It’s all good to know.

How do you find out this information? Well of course you can conduct lots of research, and if you really want to know how much you smell, then there is no better place than Twitter.

The negativity is rife and the Twitterati are exactly the ones to give it to you both barrels. Last week I saw a Twitter announcement that drummed up a lot of interest and emotion, which was Papa John’s sponsoring the English Football League trophy. You can gauge instantly what people think of the idea, albeit many were venting and ranting anonymously, and as a brand marketer I would get obsessed with what people are tweeting, as there is a lot to learn.

Out of all of this, my take is that people feel more love for Papa Johns’ main competitor Domino’s, the company has issues with quality and brand perceptions, the cup competition itself has some brand issues too (which may be too much for a brand sponsor to tackle) and some people seem to have an issue with Papa John’s being attached to football. I would immediately be talking to those who made the comments, or a representative group, to get to the root of the issues and put a plan in place to turn round the negative brand associations. This could be a very exciting defining moment for Papa John’s.

If you are going to be part of a social media channel to support your major sponsorship campaign, then you need to be there 18/7 if not 24/7, as there are some genuine comments amongst the abuse. One comment was hanging for four days at the time of writing by the Papa John’s Trophy team - a year in social media terms. If you invite people to comment you really need to get back to them in real time if you can. The majority of consumers expect a response from a brand account within the hour.

The push posting from the cup account has been great and very active on cup nights. But social media is a two-way conversation, so more interaction is required to start to build a rapport with the fan community, which could prove valuable over time, and the satisfaction of measuring the turnaround of negative brand perceptions is incredible.

There could also have been an opportunity to absolutely take the negative people to town and Papa John’s (if well played) could have gained viral coverage form this sassy approach. Like The Sun Dream Team, Paddy Power and Tesco Mobile did.

I do expect there will be much more to come for this partnership and wish the Papa John’s Trophy partnership well. With a sponsorship package this big, it will be exciting to see what happens over the next three seasons. I am looking forward to the next cup night to see if all kick off once again.

Idea – 6/10 (solid idea to reach your audiences and new audiences nationwide)

Effort vs Return - 7/10 (will give huge reach amongst a new / national audience)

Execution – 6/10 (early days)

Impact – 5/10 (depending on activation and growing and fostering the social media/fan community)

Summary – 6/10