Tag Archives: Newtown

More brands suffer at the hands of social media

11 Sep

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First there were hurricanes, and shootings. Then there was horsemeat and a Royal baby. What have these events got in common? They’ve all prompted (foolish) companies to jump on the bandwagon to promote their brands. But, more often than not, the PR and marketing team’s rushed efforts lead to a grovelling apology after a consumer backlash.

Let me explain.

Today, the world remembers the innocent victims from the tragic 9/11 event in New York. And, like clockwork, brands have used the 12-year anniversary for self gain. Unfortunately, it’s all too transparent and US site Fast Company has created a round-up of the worst social media stunts. Take a look – it’s really interesting.

Telecommunications company AT&T shamelessly featured the new Blackberry in its commemorative corporate tweet – which went down like a lead balloon despite the brand realising its rookie mistake and deleting from its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That’s not all.

Marriott Hotels – which has a unique connection with 9/11 in the sense that one of its branches sat at the foot of the Twin Towers and collapsed with it on the day – tweeted an image of a plate of pastries and a sign reading that it was giving them away between 8.45am and 9.15am. People lost their lives. So, needless to say that pastries aren’t really a consolation prize to shout about.

First of all, social media managers / interns / robots that are running the game must sense check with the wider marketing teams and get key messages signed off. That way if the update blows – you’re all idiots.

Secondly, an event like this shouldn’t even be viewed as a commercial opportunity. Yes, if done in the right way, it can curry favour with consumers. But, brands shouldn’t make light of 9/11 in anyway. Ok, a #neverforget hash tag can put your tweet in the centre of the online community, but images? Risky. What picture can possibly connect with thousands of people directly associated with the event, and the millions more who were touched by it. As we’ve seen, brands can be on top of the world one minute and at the bottom the next. And clicking delete doesn’t mean a thing once it’s been seen.

Brands must keep it simple. Nappy company Huggies is a good example of this by remembering the victims and the brave people who risked their lives to save others. But, even then, you’re left thinking ‘why are you getting involved?’

So, lastly, unless your brand has a direct association with the event in question and you have something that will add value to ‘the’ online conversation, say nothing at all.

Silence is golden in situations like this. Agree?

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Sometimes social media silence is best

19 Dec

Following the tragic Newtown shootings in Connecticut last week, which has left America mourning, brands have continued to make light of the situation with insensitive gestures.

This isn’t uncommon. Recently I blogged on GAP and American Apparel’s misfortunes during the New York hurricanes. Amidst the disaster, both retailers thought sales were the answer and encouraged users to stay indoors and do some shopping.

What’s worrying is that brands aren’t learning the basic ‘dos an don’ts’ even after bloggers hang them out to dry.

This time around there’s been a series of mishaps.

Cerberus Capital Management
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, the maker of Bushmaster firearms – the gun that killed 27 people, had to pull a marketing ploy that referred to ‘avoiding eye contact with tough looking fifth graders’.

This links to Brad Phillips’ viewpoint on the PR Daily that it’s about time people stopped their prescheduled social media updates and campaigns during crises such as this to avoid foolish mistakes.

Since the shooting, Cerberus Capital Management has announced that it plans to sell the arms firm it bought in 2006.

Dansko
As highlighted by blogger Alex Judd, US footwear maker Dankso posted this on its Facebook page:

“…sometimes it’s the routine of everyday life that keeps us moving after a tragedy. You grasp for the familiar, the little things you take comfort in, even if that’s simply wearing a favourite pair of shoes and taking one step at a time.”

After a series of abuse from fans, it promptly pulled the comment and moved on without apologising – a pet peeve of mine.

Celebrity slip-up
Former Coronation Street and I’m a Celebrity star Helen Flanagan has made headlines for all the wrong reasons – re-posting an image of herself holding a gun to her head as the first Newtown funerals took place.

Helen has since turned the tables on her enemies, claiming the papers are bullying her after her ‘brainless’ tactic.

I’m not going to add to the comments Helen’s been receiving. But I will say, for brands and celebrities alike, there’s nothing wrong with social media silence in the aftermath of an event that has shaken the world.

If you can’t say anything appropriate, don’t say anything at all.

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