by Delysia Eminian

It’s not news that many companies “accidentally” tweet out stupid and offensive things. But, Home Depot took it to a new level in 2013 when they tweeted the photo shown in this blog post. The tweet stated: “Which drummer is not like the others? See more….” and below it was a picture of two African American men with a man in a gorilla mask sitting in between them. The tweet was not up for very long, but in today’s age a tweet can be up for just a second (aka long enough for one person to take a screen shot) and then it spreads like crazy. According to The New York Post, the tweet was a part of a College Game Day football promotion on ESPN.

Home Depot's Racist Tweet

Home Depot’s Tweet

The company apologized profusely through their social media platforms and immediately deleted the tweet as soon as they found out it was out there. The company tweeted out on this apology: “We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it.” Home Depot sent that in a tweet to some of the hundreds of people who responded to the photo. Also, a Home Depot spokesman, Stephen Holmes, told The Huffington Post that they are closely reviewing their social media procedures to figure out how it happened and to ensure that it does not happen again.

Business Insider reported that Home Depot will not however, reveal the name of the agency that supposedly sent out the tweet. And AdWeek states that they think the whole situation is a little weird. The fact that Home Depot did not approve the content that was posted; they say it is as if someone just went in and posted the photo and that no one went through the whole planning and approval process.

People responded to this tweet in a very angry manner. They responded through different social media platforms. ABC News reported two total different Facebook users views on the subject; one person posted about how the company should basically accept responsibility for what happened and not blame others. While the other user said that they will continue shopping at Home Depot because they believe that Home Depot handled the situation well.

Time Magazine showed a couple of screen shots of peoples’ responses on twitter. One user tweeted to the NAACP and attached the screenshot in the tweet.  Another user, comedian Roy Wood Jr., tweeted “Yo @HomeDepot I’m tweeting you on behalf of Al Sharpton and all black ppl. We would like a free gallon of paint to make this right.” Clearly, many people took the tweet very seriously since it was so offensive. And others were simply trying to find the comic relief in the situation.

This campaign was an epic social fail. Home Depot may have had many other good tweets to promote College Game Day, but this will always be the one that people will remember. And it is not a good one to remember; Time Magazine said the photo was extremely offensive. The whole situation may have been a complete and total accident, but it doesn’t change the way people view Home Depot after seeing that tweet. Home Depot did a good job in responding quickly and terminating the people involved and by re-evaluating their social media procedures. They clearly have a good crisis management system. Home Depot should have taken precautions to prevent this type of thing from happening. In fact, all companies should have these precautions in place that way they can avoid backlash and negativity on their company. However, accidents do happen and sometimes it is out of the company’s control; they should then have some very good crisis management procedures in place.

 

References:

Alter, C. (2013, November 7). Home Depot apologizes for racist tweet. Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://business.time.com/2013/11/07/home-depot-apologizes-for-racist-tweet/

Associated Press. (2013, November 8). Home Depot apologizes for racist tweet. The New York Post. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2013/11/08/home-depot-apologizes-for-racist-tweet/

Bhasin, K. (2013, November 8). Home Depot tweets racist photo, scrambles to apologize. Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/home-depot-racist-photo_n_4241039.html

Coffee, P. (2013, November 8). Home Depot blames agency for deleted tweet. AdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/home-depot-blames-agency-for-deleted-tweet/78248

Feloni, R. (2013, November 8). Home Depot dedicates twitter feed to apologies and terminates social media agency after racist tweet. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/home-depot-responds-to-racism-accusations-2013-11

Kim, S. (2013, November 8). Home Depot apologizes for racist tweet sent from its twitter account. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/home-depot-apologizes-racist-tweet/story?id=20831402