by Casey Weinfurtner 

I’m a sucker for any pizza pun – trust me. And using that lighthearted wit to center around our favorite cheesy meal is a popular social media tactic DiGiorno’s Pizza has built its reputation on. With over 88,000 thousand followers, they’ve got quite the following to back up their humorous success.

But a major hashtag fail took DiGiorno’s typical “LOL” moment on Twitter for a drastic downhill spiral.

After TMZ’s video release in September 2014 of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator, thousands of users took to Twitter to express their sympathies for Janay Palmer and share their own abuse stories by including the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

The hashtag of #WhyIStayed had cultivated enough Twitter conversation that by the evening of September 8, 2014, DiGiorno decided to include themselves in the trend. The individual running DiGiorno’s handle saw an opportunity to use the hot topic as a clever joke and tweeted out:

DiGiorno#WhyIStayed

Epic fail.

It didn’t take long for DiGiorno to get their lesson on how a lack of research can ultimately lead to your biggest social media mistake. Rather than investing time to understand the purpose of the trending hashtag, DiGiorno was quick to unknowingly throw their usual humor along with an extremely sensitive topic. The tweet may have been deleted, but multiple screen shots began to surface throughout social media channels and sent the post viral, generating quite an angry response from users. Though the tweet was clearly not well thought out or representative of DiGiorno’s brand, the brand itself was exploited for using domestic violence to sell their pizza. Come on now DiGiorno, we know you’re better than that.

Despite the negative response from Twitter users and the media, DiGiorno made the best PR decision for their brand: to apologize. Rather than making excuses or placing the blame elsewhere, the person behind the Twitter mess came forward and admitted to not researching the hashtag prior to tweeting and fully acknowledged the damage created.

apologyDiGiorno

Not only did the DiGiorno tweeter come forth with an apology, but the apologies to many Twitter users offended by the #WhyIStayed tweet were genuine and heartfelt.

ScreenshotD

DiGiorno proved their brand was willing to publicly admit to their mistakes, and continued to build connections with their followers by personalizing their apologetic responses. The full acceptance of their mindless words allowed DiGiorno’s social media fail to spiral back upwards. Ultimately, their apologies were well received and judging by DiGiorno’s current 88.7 k followers, I’d say Twitter users have forgiven the brand for their careless mistake.

Apologies aside, it’s knowledge of “Social Media 101” that once a tweet is sent out, it will never really be deleted. Can DiGiorno ever fully recover from their bad joke?

The lesson to be learned here is simple: do your research. Though DiGiorno may have handled their mistake in the classiest way possible, this social media fail would have been prevented had the marketing or social media team taken a second look at what content they were choosing to associate their brand with. All they needed to do was click on the hashtag and dig through a variety of the #WhyIStayed posts to gather an idea of the Twitter conversations circulating. Especially when running such a popular Twitter handle, I would have taken a second look at a trending topic before linking my brand to the content and creating potential damage to our social media presence.

Point blank – think before you tweet. And next time DiGiorno?  Know your ingredients.

References 

Fail: DiGiorno Tweet Accidentally Promoted Domestic Violence. (2014, November 13). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://bossanovainteractive.com/social-media/fail-digiorno-tweet-accidentally-promoted-domestic-violence/

Bein, L. (2014, November 28). A complete timeline of the Ray Rice assault case. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2014/5/23/5744964/ray-rice-arrest-assault-statement-apology-ravens

Winchel, B. (n.d.). Social media lessons from DiGiorno’s hashtag fail. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Social_media_lessons_from_DiGiornos_hashtag_fail_17234.aspx

Relander, B. (2014, June 3). 5 Social Media Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234437

Griner, D. (n.d.). DiGiorno Is Really, Really Sorry About Its Tweet Accidentally Making Light of Domestic Violence. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/digiorno-really-really-sorry-about-its-tweet-accidentally-making-light-domestic-violence-159998