by Katie Trombetti
The greatest social media moments can happen when they are unplanned. Oreo’s slam-dunk during the 2014 Super Bowl stating ‘You can dunk in the dark’ was an immediate hit with social media, advertising and fans alike. This spur of the moment social media takes on a whole campaign life of its’ own, becoming the new focus of advertising for a company. The greatest fails, however, can also be born in this way. In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal the hashtag #WhyIStayed was born so that survivors of domestic abuse could share their stories. DiGiorno Pizza made the grave mistake of Tweeting ‘#WhyIStayed You had pizza.’ The firestorm of criticism they received started a campaign of it’s own; save DiGiorno.
Whatever their social media campaign had been before no one could tell you, but the flood of apologies that had to be issued by DiGiorno took over all of their social media sites. The purpose of this, of course, was to save face. DiGiorno made a serious error when they did not bother to check to see what the hashtag was about and now they were paying for it. Their fail was seen and heard across the country, even moving off of social media and into traditional media. There was no way that they were going to escape what they did and sweep it under the rug.
The key insights of this accidental campaign were simple; apologize profusely and sincerely. There was no limit to the number of ‘sorry’s they were going to have to say. They needed people to know that they knew they messed up and they made sure that people knew they meant it. “Our community manager – and the entire DiGiorno team – is truly sorry. The tweet does not reflect our values and we’ve been personally responding to everyone who has engaged with us on social media. We apologize,” said Roz O’Hearn, a spokeswoman for Nestle, which owns DiGiorno (Huffington Post). The campaign was mostly conducted on Twitter, but there was some interaction on other social media sites. Since Twitter was ground zero for this campaign, it makes sense that this is where most people would try to reach out to DiGiorno about their grave mistake.
This campaign was a social fail for a number of reasons, the first and most obvious reason being that it was incredibly insensitive to the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer domestic abuse. This platform was being used as a way for people to stand up and be brave, to tell their stories. DiGiorno sullied this when they tried to sell a pizza. For the many people who this meant a great deal to, DiGiorno was seen as unsensitive and uncaring. This can be seen in the blunt title of the Time article “DiGiorno Used a Hashtag About Domestic Violence to Sell Pizza”. The second most obvious reason that this was a social fail was the lack of research that went into the original tweet. If something is trending or spur of the moment, you always check to see what it’s about. There is no excuse for laziness in this business.
The biggest improvement that could have been made to this campaign would have been to prevent it in the first place. A little research could have gone an extremely long way in preventing the entire episode from happening. It’s not rocket science, it’s clicking on a hashtag and reading a few tweets. While their apologies were sincere, they should never have happened at all.
Griner, David. September 9, 2014. AdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/digiorno-really-really-sorry-about-its-tweet-accidentally-making-light-domestic-violence-159998
Petri, Alexandra. Sepember 9, 2014. The Washington Post. Retreived from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2014/09/09/whyistayed-digiorno-and-other-corporate-disasters/
Short, Kevin. September 9, 2014. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/09/digiornos-pizza-whyistayed-tweet_n_5790504.html
Stampler, Laura. Sepember 9, 2014. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/3308861/digiorno-social-media-pizza/
Wasserman, Todd. Sepember 9, 2014. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/09/09/digiorno-pizza-whyistayed-hashtag/