By: Cody Ferguson

The take-home pizza company, DiGiorno mistakenly tried to advertise their pizza with the trending #WhyIStayed hashtag in which was promoting domestic violence. Need I say more?

Trending hashtags and rising topics are a shoe-in for companies to be able to promote Digiornos tweettheir products or services to a large audience virtually free of charge. For example, remember #TheDress that wreaked havoc on the social media world, confusing users as to if the dress was blue or black? Many companies capitalized on that opportunity to join in on the conversation in ways that promoted their products. However, there is a time and place for that.

What Happened?

During an ongoing promotion to help raise awareness concerning victims of domestic violence, #WhyIStayed hashtag was trending via Twitter. Users would add the hashtag to verbally state why they decided to stay in an abusive relationship with their significant other. This user-generated campaign could be the result of the aftermath of the incident involving former NFL running back, Ray Rice who was caught violently beating his wife in a hotel elevator. During 24-hours after the incident, over 46,000 tweets were sent out using the #WhyIStayed hashtag. 

The Aftermath

As I stated previously, joining in on hashtag conversations can be a great opportunity for companies to extend their social reach. However, you must FIRST understand the context in which the hashtag represents. DiGiorno in this case, failed to do so in a big way. Just four minutes after their original tweet, the company tweeted an apology for Digiorno social media failtheir actions. My guess is that they most likely received a large inflow of replies from users venting their extreme frustration and offense.

According to Social Media Week, making light of violence is never acceptable, and neither is jumping into a trending hashtag without first understanding the context. While timeliness is important and sometimes critical, when it comes to social media, you can always afford to take a few minutes to gain an insight into the conversation. I mean come on, how hard is it to figure out the context of a trending hashtag?

These people are supposed to be professionals? I know many college students who are aspiring to become social media managers who would never think about making a mistake like that. I think it is fair to say that the person responsible for that tweet was most likely fired and DiGiorno’s brand image is now somewhat damaged.

According to Buzzfeed, the entire DiGiorno team is sorry. Obviously. The company’s parent firm, Nestle U.S.A. stated “The tweet was a mistake, quickly realized as such, and deleted seconds later.” But can doing so truly revoke the image that is now associated with the company? This is often a question that arises when large organizations make a mistake this big. Especially in the world of social media.

Days after the incident, DiGiorno continued to apologize to any person that tweeted at #WhyIStayed mistakeit and rightfully so. I’d guess that DiGiorno won’t be jumping into Twitter hashtags anytime in the near future. At least without carefully examining the context of such.

So, Im interested. What steps do you think companies can take to help repair their image from a situation like that of Digiorno? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you have to say!




Brodrick, R. (2014). DiGiorno Accidentally Tried To Advertise Their Pizza In A Hashtag About Domestic Violence. Retrieved from

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Griner, D. (2014). DiGiorno Is Really, Really Sorry About Its Tweet Accidentally Making Light of Domestic Violence: Reminder to always check the context on hashtags. Retrieved from

Rogers, A. (2015). The Science of Why No One Agrees On the Color of This Dress. Retrieved from

Winchel, B. (2014). Social media lessonsfrom DiGiorno’s hashtag fail. Retrieved from