Be Sensible: Avoid Disasters to Avoid Disastrous Social Media
Unless you’ve been living under a very accommodating rock lately, you may have noticed that there’s a lot of global tension at the moment: whether it’s the Syrian refugees forced from their homes due to war, or South and North Korea upping the ante in order to get one over on one another.
For sensible individuals, it’s abundantly clear that these are very upsetting topics. Unfortunately, the team behind Call of Duty’s online marketing may have missed the notice, offending a great deal of people and making even more afraid for their lives earlier this week. The PR stunt in question featured the CoD Twitter account re-branded as ‘Current Events Aggregate’, before pulling a ‘War of the Worlds’ by updating its followers on ‘real’ news: namely that terrorist attacks had rocked Singapore and the government had enacted martial law. Those tweets went out to 2.8 million (very scared) followers.
Obviously, this stunt has backfired quite dramatically, and the PR team have most likely received a slap on the wrist and won’t be doing anything that risky again for a while. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that a brand has tried to capitalise on a disaster or inappropriate current affairs.
During the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, clothing retailer Kenneth Cole released a tweet that put the protesting down to the launch of their new spring collection. Sadly, a lot of people died and the country was thrown into turmoil – and we definitely don’t think Kenneth Cole made many sales off the back of that tweet.
Another inappropriate tweet trying to work clothing promotion into a tragic event came when Celeb Boutique’s social media manager mistook #Aurora trending on Twitter for hype around Kim Kardashian’s new dress – rather than for the tragic cinema shooting everyone was actually talking about.
Unfortunately, it’s not just human tragedies that brands have messed up on: natural disasters have also been used to flog goods on Twitter, with a notable example being Gap’s distasteful use of Hurricane Sandy (which ruined lives, destroyed homes, and claimed multiple fatalities in 2012) to suggest everyone affected partake in some online shopping.
In short, using such negative news – or implying a fake scenario from a very real paranoia – is not a great idea for any brand to try; the results can be disastrous and can permanently ruin your reputation by making your customers think you’re a far from sensitive brand.
Instead, if you feel a tragedy or disaster is worth talking about, offer sympathy and make it known that your company is being mindful of the event and those affected by it – you’ll find the end result is a lot less end-of-the-world (and you won’t have to fire any of your social media team).
Alternatively, get in touch with the Christian Michaels Agency to discuss social media management and ensure your brand’s presence is always professional and on message!