Ohio University Strategic Social Media

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Category: Social Fail (page 1 of 7)

The Attack of the Intern: How One Tweet Uprooted an Entire Campaign

 By: Alyssa Das

Pizza Hut is a pretty big brand in the United States, they have over 1.3 million followers on Twitter and 27,261,184 likes and 3,961,779 page visits on their Facebook. According to Social Media Today this is because their content team is quick and able to turn ideas into social posts within minutes. This idea holds true for their UK brand as well.

Pizza Hut UK recently began campaign to promote their new delivery option, the campaign is called It’s A Big Deal. For £14 you can get a large pizza, any side, garlic bread, wedges, and a 1.5 liter drink. They promoted their new campaign with some pretty ridiculous ads, check this one out: ad video

Pizza Hut Delivery – The Big Deal 30s from Ogilvy & Mather Group UK on Vimeo.

These videos show things people would think are a big deal (divorce, lightning strikes, magnetic faces, a ventriloquist doll going solo) and kind of say “hey that’s not a big deal, this is a big deal.”  The nature of the campaign is silly, Adweek says “It goes without saying that the ads are still pretty dumb, but that’s the point.”

At first, it was a pretty good campaign. People were talking about the ads, they were talking about Pizza Hut and they were ordering more pizzas. The trouble of this campaign came on January 16th 2016, in the middle of the tennis match-fixing scandal. (side note: If you aren’t a huge tennis fan and don’t know much about this scandal you should check it out, it’s huge.)

The only explanation I could ever come up with for the following tweet is what I call The Attack of the Intern. Someone on Pizza Hut’s social media team must have given the Twitter login to an ambitious and excited intern who decided this would be a great idea: 

The tweet has been deleted since January, but I’ve got a screen shot of it above. The GIF was of a tennis player swinging a racket with text saying something along the lines of “that’s not a big deal” then switching to a pizza and saying “this is a big deal.” Classy.

The reality though, is this probably wasn’t the work of an intern, it’s probably the work of a group of experienced people; but if I were Pizza Hut, I would totally blame it on my intern. I think the tweet singlehandedly turned a somewhat successful campaign into a really big social fail.

There is a time and a place for humorous campaigns and I think brands have got to be careful when trying to connect their campaigns to current events.

The GIF made the tweet so much worse. It shows that there was more than a split-second decision to tweet or not tweet, it shows there was a conscious decision and process to make this. I am no design expert, but that animation had to have taken at least an hour to make, meaning they had at least an hour to decide this was a terrible idea. But they didn’t. They ran it.

This tweet was a social fail because it took something people cared about (tennis scandal) and turned it into a joke. Tennis is the fifth most popular sport in the UK. Pizza Hut should have considered this fact when they were thinking about making this tweet. They should have considered the connections they were going to lose with tennis fans while making this tweet. They should have considered how one tweet could ruin an entire campaign while making this tweet. But they didn’t. Instead they took time and effort to make fun of something a lot of people were upset about, turning their campaign into a social fail.

Brand of the Day: Pizza Hut Wants You to Know Italians Hate Its Pizza. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/brand-day-pizza-hut-wants-you-know-italians-hate-their-pizza-161548
Mutants and a Talking Puppet Can’t Believe Pizza Hut Is for Real in These Silly Ads. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/mutants-and-talking-puppet-cant-believe-pizza-hut-real-these-silly-ads-169036
O&M London make a ‘Big Deal’ of Pizza Hut Delivery. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2016/01/om-london-make-a-‘big-deal’-of-pizza-hut-delivery/
Pizza Hut Delivery – Big Deal – Puppet by Ogilvy & Mather Group UK – Television. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/34521475/big-deal-puppet/pizza-hut-delivery
Taco Bell Delivers Saucy Valentine’s Campaign Via Snapchat. (2015). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://marketingland.com/taco-bell-delivers-saucy-valentines-campaign-via-snapchat-118372
The Big Brand Theory: Pizza Hut. (2014). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/big-brand-theory-pizza-hut
The Surprising Audience That Responded to Pizza Hut’s Rebranding. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.crimsonhexagon.com/blog/opinion/surprising-audience-responded-pizza-huts-rebranding/

SeaWorld Takes Another Loss With Twitter Campaign

By Madison Chelminski

You may remember when the documentary Blackfish was released back in 2013. It highlighted the lives of killer whales living in Sea World and the negative effects of their captivity, including attacks on humans, one being a trainer that was killed back in 2010. After the film was released to the public, Sea World’s image was tarnished. Although the park claimed that the documentary was “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate”, ticket sales plunged. In order to regain the public’s trust and increase sales once again, they created a multi-million dollar social media campaign in which they asked people on Twitter to ask any questions they had, using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. Unfortunately, Sea World received thousands of angry and critical questions that were left unanswered by the corporation. Some of the questions even came from well-known organizations, such as PETA, tweeting “If mother-calf bond is ‘valued’ at your parks, why have you separated 19 calves from their mothers?”. Another tweet from the Blue Planet Society asked “The last UK dolphinarium closed in 1993. Why are you persisting with a cruel & archaic business model that is clearly failing?”. Things got a little messy when Sea World responded on Twitter by calling these people “trolls” and “bots”. With the sassy tweets from the park, Twitter users tolerance for the attempted campaign dwindled quick.

Example of many upset Tweeters' response to #AskSeaWorld

PETA chimes in on the #AskSeaWorld campaign.

In the parks defense, their hashtag was at the top of the trending list on Twitter. Although, the cliche saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” didn’t quite work in the favor of Sea World. In march of 2015, after the campaign was launched, CNN Money reported that their stock had been down nearly 40% in the past year, and about 50% below their all-time high. New York Post also highlighted on their net income plunging 85% and revenue 3%. Even Sea World’s previous killer whale trainer, John Hargove, turned against the park publicly on The Daily Show with John Stewart. After the campaign costing them millions, it’s safe to say it was a fail in both Sea Worlds pocket and reputation.

Using audience content as part of a campaign can be risky. A good example of this is the Bill Cosby Meme incident back in 2014. Bill Cosby tweeted out to his followers a photo of him asking them to create funny memes with it. It quickly backfired when people started to implement his previous rape allegations into the memes, creating a mockery of himself. Sea World could have possibly done some research before leaving their image in the hands of the already angry public. Since the hashtag #AskSeaWorld was trending, it made all the negative tweets even more accessible and exposed to users of Twitter. They probably could have benefited better from shifting away from the problem, rather than micro focusing on it. Creating their own user generated content would have given them control of the situation, in which they definitely lacked in this campaign. Perhaps they will give it another shot this year.

Aurthur, Kate. (2014, November 10). The Bill Cosby Meme #CosbyMeme Hashtag Backfired Immediately. Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/kateaurthur/the-bill-cosby-cosbymeme-hashtag-backfired-immediately#.qgYaVJGRlL

Coffee, Patrick. ( 2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Reputation Campaign Fails Miserably. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/askseaworld-reputation-campaign-fails-miserably/111686

Lobosco, Katie. (2015, March 27). ‘Ask SeaWorld’ Marketing Campaign Backfires. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/27/news/companies/ask-seaworld-twitter/

Post Staff Report. (2015, August 6). ‘Ask Seaworld’ Campaign Fails to stop attendance from sinking. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2015/08/06/new-ad-campaign-fails-to-stop-seaworlds-sinking-attendance/

Sola, Katie. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Pretty Much Goes How You’d Expect. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/27/seaworld-twitter-fail_n_6950902.html

Starbucks brewed up a hot #SocialFail with the #RaceTogether campaign

Mackenzie Holden


Photo of a #RaceTogether cup, launched by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz. Retrived from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244035


Response tweet to the controversial #RaceTogether campaign. Retrieved from: http://www.theinclusionsolution.me/the-buzz-still-not-ready-to-race-together/

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has always been an advocate for sensitive issues going on around the world and here in the U.S. of A.  Recently, he made 97 Seattle shop locations LGBT “safe” zones in an effort to support gay rights and the strides that the U.S. has made this year.  Schultz has never been one to keep quiet on an issue and thinks that using his platform to make a difference is his duty.  Although that is all true, according to many Americans, he made one big mistake with this #socialfail by launching the #RaceTogether campaign in response to the August 2015 shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, followed by several others like it New York, Madison, Wisconsin, and other cities.  Schultz backed the movement stating, “If we just keep going about out business and ringing the Starbucks register every day and ignoring this, then I think we are, in a sense, part of the problem.”  Starbucks released a video promoting the #RaceTogether campaign on its website to get things started.

Although his heart was in the right place, Howard Schultz was met with a high volume of skeptics on the idea because of the nature of the company and the racially charged sensitive topic.  Many saw it as Starbucks overstepping its boundaries into a territory it didn’t belong and joining a conversation that wasn’t appropriate for a white billionaire coffee shop chain owner to enter.

Despite his marketing team advising him to not take this sensitive social issue on, Schultz went on to encourage, but not require employees to write #RaceTogether on the Starbucks cups in order to strike a conversation about the racial inequality in this country and to remind customers that we are all in this together.  He made the statement “We knew this wouldn’t be easy, but we feel it is well worth the discomfort.”

The company received a lot of heat because of the way it was spread on social media, portraying mostly white employees “starting the conversation”.  It was seen as offensive and a bigger example of white privilege over anything, as seen below on the Starbucks Partners Instagram page.

Photo retrieved from: http://www.crowdbabble.com/blog/crisis-management-101-did-the-good-intentions-behind-starbucks-racetogether-pay-off/

Many thought that Schultz saw the tragedy as an opportunity to promote his brand, not considering how the public may feel in such a time on controversy.  He insisted that the campaign was not part of increasing the company’s bottom line, but a way to show his support for racial equality in a time of adversity.  On partner stated, “The current state of racism in our country is almost like humidity at times.  You can’t see it, but you feel it.”  Schultz also said that staying silent is not who Starbucks is.

Back lash continued to pour in from people all around the world, including celebrities, more notably, news comedians.  Specifically, John Oliver had a lot to say about the subject.  He pointed out that there was a place and time to talk about race and that it wasn’t in a coffee shop run by a white billionaire.  He also criticized the company for the way it reacted to the criticism.  Starbucks VP of Communications, Corey duBrowa, temporarily deleted his Twitter after he felt “personally attacked” by the slew of negative tweets targeted at him during the campaign.

Starbucks ultimately ceased the #RaceTogether cup writing phase on March 22nd stating that it “was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation”.  Schultz thanked the employees for committing to such a difficult conversation.

The bottom line is although the intentions were right, the platform was all wrong and the execution was flawed.  Better luck next time, Howard.


Baertlein, L. (2015, March 18). Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Campaign Brews Backlash. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/18/starbucks-race-backlash_n_6898324.html

Carr, A. (2015, June 15). The Inside Story of Starbuck’s Race Together Campaign, No Foam. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3046890/the-inside-story-of-starbuckss-race-together-campaign-no-foam

Masunaga, S. (2015, March 18). Starbucks Brews Up Controversy wity ‘Race Together’ Campaign. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-starbucks-race-20150318-story.html

Meyer, K. (2016, January 14). Crisis Management 101: Starbucks Stirs the Pot with #RaceTogether Campaign. Retrieved from http://www.crowdbabble.com/blog/crisis-management-101-did-the-good-intentions-behind-starbucks-racetogether-pay-off/

Nichols, J. (2015, November 12). Starbucks Turns 97 Seattle Locations Into LGBT Safe Spaces. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/starbucks-turns-97-seattle-locations-into-lgbt-safe-spaces_us_5644df84e4b08cda3487e74e

Taylor, K. (2015, March 17). Why the Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Campaign Is Bad for Business. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244035

What ‘Race Together’ Means for Starbucks Partners and Customers. (2015, March 16). Retrieved from https://news.starbucks.com/news/what-race-together-means-for-starbucks-partners-and-customers

Winters, M. (2015, March 25). The Buzz: Still Not Ready to “Race Together”. Retrieved from http://www.theinclusionsolution.me/the-buzz-still-not-ready-to-race-together/


American Apparel celebrates the Fourth of July by sharing Challenger explosion

By Shyann Williams


am-apFor Independence Day, you would think one of the largest apparel manufacturers in North America would have the best social media celebrating the country. However, it was the complete opposite for American Apparel after they posted a picture of the Challenger space shuttle disaster before the Fourth of July. The image the company posted was a trail of smoke streaking across a skyline that had been photoshopped red, using the hashtags #smoke and #clouds, suggesting that we were looking at an after image of fireworks.  The company was immediately hammered with negative feedback because the photo wasn’t fireworks at all.

The image was of the 1986 space shuttle Challenger, moments after it exploded following liftoff. The accident instantly ended the lives of all seven of its astronaut passengers. It was the biggest disaster in the history of manned spaceflight, and forever changed not only NASA but Earth’s entire space exploration industry.

American apparel followers quickly recognized the image for what it was and was very angry with the company. The post was deleted, but not before screenshots were taken of it and posted all over social media. On Friday, July 4, American Apparel twitter account sent out an apology:


American Apparel claims that the mistake was made by a social media employee living outside the United States, who was “born after the Challenger’s destruction and was unaware of the event.”

This is a social media fail because the employee who posted the photo is probably in his or her mid-to-late twenties, had “never heard” of the Challenger disaster. This was a tragedy that people today can recall exact details about where there were and what they were doing when the news broke. I believe AA tried to cover for the employee by saying he or she isn’t American and is young. Also the photo doesn’t look like fireworks at all, people who can’t tell the difference between fireworks and a space shuttle explosion shouldn’t be handling your social media.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.18.25 PM

Many consumers posted that they weren’t going to shop at American Apparel anymore. There’s nothing to improve with this campaign because it was a “mistake”, however, I think the company should start being more careful with their social media because this wasn’t their first social media fail. In 2012, while Hurricane Sandy was destroying the East Coast, the retailer sent out an e-mail blast stating, “In case you’re bored during the storm. 20 percent off everything for the next 36 hours.” Social media also reacted immediately and negatively to their insensitive sales promotion.

story-apparel2n-1101Unfortunately, I don’t think American Apparel meant to come off offensive but to avoid these situations they should hire social media experts and take it more seriously. I also believe their apology made the situation worst because of the excuses they made. Nowadays we have Google search so this could have been avoided and also age shouldn’t be an excuse either. If your going to work in social media, you should know your history.


Burt, B. (2015). Valuable Lessons From 5 Shockingly Bad Social Media Fails. Social Media Week. Retrieved from: http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/04/valuable-lessons-5-shockingly-bad-social-media-fails/

Parrish, R. (2014). Oops: American Apparel shares space shuttle Challenger explosion as fireworks display. Tech Times. Retrieved from: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/9795/20140705/american-apparel-shares-space-shuttle-challenger-explosion-fireworks-display.htm

Wood, S. (2014). American Apparel Mistakes Challenger Explosion for Fireworks. Ad Week. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/american-apparel-mistakes-challenger-explosion-as-fireworks/96241

Kemp, J. (2014). American Apparel apologizes for posting picture of Challenger disaster as ‘clouds’. New York Daily News. Retrieved from: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/american-apparel-apologizes-posting-picture-challenger-disaster-clouds-article-1.1855006

Kleinberg, S. (2014). In social media, there are no excuses. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-07-09/features/ct-social-media-excuses-20140709_1_image-search-social-media-apology-post






Social FAIL | #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Backfires Miserably

By Ciara Sebecke

In 2015, SeaWorld took to Twitter and opened up the floor to the public with the #AskSeaWorld campaign. They might as well have opened Pandora’s Box. Perhaps they were inspired by McDonald’s similar campaign the previous year, which also opened the floor to criticism and questions about pink slime, horse meat and suspicious ingredients. The difference between the successful McDonald’s campaign and the SeaWorld campaign was that McDonalds was prepared for these skeptical questions and answered them with honest answers, busting the false rumors circulating about their fast food chain. On the other hand, SeaWorld ignored the negative questions and even tweeted back at skeptics calling them “trolls.”

You would have thought the PR and Social media staff could have predicted all of the Twitter hate with movies like Blackfish, a skeptical  documentary about killer whales, circulating the internet and appearing on Netflix only a year before. Considering that this campaign was launched during a time of controversy surrounding their brand you would have thought the goal was to dispel negative rumors. Apparently that is not what they had in mind because it was painfully obvious that whoever ran the SeaWorld Twitter account was NOT prepared to address these rumors and concerns.

Some examples of popular Tweets using the hashtag include, “does your company have this ‘get away with murder’ club? Is OJ there too? Do you guys talk over a seafood platter?” and “The last UK dolphinarium closed in 1993. Why are you persisting with a cruel & archaic business model that is clearly failing?” Honestly, what did they expect would happen? Who thought this was a good idea if they were not prepared to answer these questions? Do they not know that anyone can follow hashtags and view Tweets that they are tagged in?!

SeaWorld posted their answers on ask.seaworldcares.com, with no links to the original account on Twitter, and many (if not most) of the questions cited as “asked by: General Question,” or “Frequently Asked Question.” Even with many pitiful attempts to control the conversation and extremely selective answers, the public saw through their guise. Popular accounts like Peta using the hashtag to ask hard hitting critical questions made it hard to ignore SeaWorld’s current bad reputation. Peta even wrote a post on their blog about how bad the campaign was, and created a Parody video, If SeaWorld Commercials Told the Truth:

The campaign not only brought negative media coverage from Peta, but from other well-known sources such as CNN, Huffington Post, and Adweek. Several YouTube videos circulated with criticisms of the campaign, of SeaWorld, and of marine animal theme parks. A “whistleblower” from Seaworld was featured on The Daily Show shortly after the campaign. If anything positive came from this campaign it was boosted awareness of the cruelty within SeaWorld parks and of marine mammals kept in captivity.

Apparently the feud between Peta and SeaWorld still continues with THIS recent post from the SeaWorld website and accompanying Tweet:

What are your thoughts on SeaWorld and their current social strategy? Leave a comment below with your opinion on this #SocialFail!


Coffee, P. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Reputation Campaign Fails Miserably. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/askseaworld-reputation-campaign-fails-miserably/111686

Coffee, P. (2015, June 18). PETA Has Words for SeaWorld in New Video. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/peta-has-words-for-seaworld-in-new-video/115404

Cronin, M. (2015, March 25). SeaWorld’s New Twitter Campaign Backfires In Most Spectacular Way. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.thedodo.com/ask-seaworld-twitter-1058989271.html

Johnson, K. (2015, March 31). #AskSeaWorld Campaign’s Epic Fail. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.peta2.com/blog/ask-seaworld-twitter-fail/

Sola, K. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Pretty Much Goes How You’d Expect. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/27/seaworld-twitter-fail_n_6950902.html

P. (2015, March 27). Watch: John Hargrove Takes Down SeaWorld on The Daily Show, SeaWorld’s #AskSeaWorld Campaign Backfires Spectacularly. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/blog/watch-john-hargrove-takes-down-seaworld-on-the-daily-show-seaworlds-askseaworld-campaign-backfires/?utm_campaign=0315 John Hargrove Takes Down SeaWorld on The Daily Show, SeaWorlds AskSeaWorld Campaign Backfires Spectatularly Tweet

You Ask. We Answer. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://ask.seaworldcares.com/

Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Failed Together

By Erica Stonehill

In March of 2015 Starbucks launched the “Race Together” campaign, which allowed baristas to write “Race Together” or put stickers with the phrase on customers’ cups. It also encouraged baristas, if they felt comfortable, to engage in conversations about race with customers. The campaign last about a week’s time after receiving 2.5 billion impressions in less than 48 hours, the majority of which were negative and hateful comments toward the company, campaign and the CEO, Howard Schultz, himself. Christina Dorn, a Networked Insights analyst, analyzed the campaign and found that one-third of the related mentions were categorized as “hate” and 60 percent were negative.

Schultz launched the campaign as the first step in a more long-term initiative to “begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society—one conversation at a time.” But it was perceived as quite the opposite: a less-than-adequate attempt to address a very deeply-rooted issue in our society. Customers took to social media, using #RaceTogether to voice their displeasure:


An article on LinkedIn provides three red flags for why the “Race Together” campaign failed: brand misalignment, lack of authenticity and poor reaction. I believe brand misalignment is the biggest reason the initiative was a social fail. The following infographic breaks down the diversity within Starbucks.


Clearly, it seems ironic for a massive corporate brand, such as Starbucks to attempt to tackle such a complex issue when only three of the 19 executives and 40% of the 200,000 workers are of color.

Additionally, lack of authenticity played a big role in the online backlash to the campaign. One Huffington Post article attributes part of the backlash to Starbucks’ failure to talk about their contribution to gentrification. Gentrification is the process of improving a house or district of houses in order to conform it to the middle-class taste. According to this article, “since 1997, homes near Starbucks locations have appreciated in value by 96%, almost doubling their original price tags.” In short, Starbucks is viewed as an upper-middle class brand and this is reflected in the value of the locations. This makes the “Race Together” initiative seem insensitive, because when a Starbucks is put in a traditionally black neighborhood, property prices increase and ultimately, drive away those traditional inhabitants.

Finally, poor reaction is a risk any company faces when launching a campaign, especially with the real-time factor of social media. Consumers are able to publicly voice their opinions on a campaign and seriously affect the perceptions of a brand, whether it be positively or negatively. Unfortunately for Starbucks, their campaign led to negative connotations.

I believe the campaign had good intentions, but race is a beast that cannot be countered by a short conversation initiated by your barista on the morning commute. I think one of the biggest oversights on the corporate level is the lack of knowledge many ground-level workers have on the issue. It’s unrealistic to expect normal people to initiate and lead an educational conversation on something so sensitive. I would have been interested to see what the long-term initiative consisted of, because I think a big brand such as Starbucks has the reach and power to make a noticeable wave in the ocean of discontent within our country. That being said, it doesn’t seem as though they thought it through enough.



Ziv, Stav. (23 March 2015). Starbucks ends phase one of Race Together initiative after grande fail. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/starbucks-ends-phase-one-race-together-initiative-after-grande-fail-316043

Gebreyes, Rahel. (19 March 2015). Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Campaign Ignores the Company’s Troubled History with Gentrification. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/19/race-together-starbucks-gentrification_n_6903060.html

Herman, Barbara. (23 March 2015). Starbucks ‘Race Together’: How It Could Have Been Better. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/starbucks-race-together-how-it-could-have-been-better-1856094

Carr, Austin. (15 June 2015). The Inside story of Starbucks’ Race Together Campaign, No Foam. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3046890/the-inside-story-of-starbuckss-race-together-campaign-no-foam

Tran, Tai. (22 March 2015). #RaceTogether: 3 Reasons Behind Starbucks’ Failure. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/racetogether-3-reasons-behind-starbucks-failure-tai-tran

Morrison, Kimberlee. (25 March 2015). What Went Wrong With the Starbucks #RaceTogether Campaign? Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/starbucks-race-together-campaign/617593



SeaWorld’s Social Media Campaign – Epic Fail

by Ashley Tucciarone

Some of the most vivid memories I can recall as a child involve visiting SeaWorld on summer weekends with my family. My favorite part was always getting to see the live shows they performed with the famous killer whale, Shamu. Unfortunately, SeaWorld has been under fire from several animal rights groups and the eye of the public since the popular documentary Blackfish aired in 2013. CNN’s video degraded the practices of SeaWorld and criticized their captivity of orcas. In March 2015, the company tried setting the record straight by addressing “false accusations” from activists who are against killer whales and other animals in zoological settings.

Image of 2 orca whales with the text: You Ask, We Answer

Sea World tries to promote their campaign by ensuring answers for the public

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing orca whale that injured and killed several people while being encompassed at SeaWorld. The producer of the documentary gathered live footage and conducted interviews to determine Tilikum’s treatment in captivity, and to examine orca whales as a whole. The video claimed that the lifespan of captivated whales are cut short in comparison to whales living in the ocean. In response to the video and the public’s negative reaction, SeaWorld decided to launch a social media campaign for the sole purpose of re-establishing a positive image. SeaWorld spent millions of dollars on a campaign they called, #AskSeaWorld. Individuals were encouraged to tweet at SeaWorld using this hashtag and ask questions, and consumers were told SeaWorld would address any concerns.

Unfortunately, the campaign launch was not as successful as the theme park had hoped. Consumers began responding immediately with over 35,000 tweets in the first week. Although the hashtag did unravel rapidly, the campaign was not spread in a positive manner. Critics who did not agree with SeaWorld’s practices took this as an opportunity to attack, questioning when the park was going to shut down, and introducing welfare matters regarding animals. Some more recent tweets from the past few days include, “Can you explain the empty car park on Valentine’s Day? Are people turned off by captivity?” Another one stated, “Whales are so nice to see in the wild together, how do they search for food at your sea circus?” CNN quoted, “SeaWorld, it appears, has more outspoken enemies than friends on Twitter.” All of the negative comments have had an impact on the company’s stock; they are down 40% in the past year and are approximately 50% below they company’s all time high. At first, SeaWorld disregarded the misuse of the hashtag, however, after being criticized they responded with “Jacking hashtags is so 2014 #bewareoftrolls,” followed by “We are trying to answer your questions but we have a few thousand trolls and bots to weed through #askseaworld #smh.” Both of these responses are unprofessional and definitely did not help the company’s case; their social media campaign was an epic fail.

SeaWorld chose to promote their social media campaign on Twitter so that the public was able to converse directly with the company. However, this was an open gateway for critics and degraded the theme park more than Blackfish already had. The company made several mistakes and could have prevented a lot of the critiques they received. First, SeaWorld waited nearly two years to respond to the documentary, thus drawing attention back to the situation. Instead of addressing what critics were saying, SeaWorld automatically defended themselves which opened the doors for critics to argue. SeaWorld should have established a social media campaign promoting their theme park, demonstrating ways in which they could improve their practices, and creating new marketable ways to attract consumers.

Cronin, M. (2015, March 25). SeaWorld’s New Twitter Campaign Backfire In Most Spectacular Way. The Dodo. Retrieved from https://www.thedodo.com/ask-seaworld-twitter-1058989271.html

Grisham, L. (2015, March 25). ‘Ask SeaWorld’ ad campaign draws criticism. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/25/seaworld-killer-whales-ad-campaign/70422606/

Lobosco, K. (2015, March 27). ‘Ask SeaWorld’ marketing campaign backfires. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/27/news/companies/ask-seaworld-twitter/

Lynch, M. (2015, March 27). SeaWorld tried to answer questions on Twitter, and it did not go well. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2015/03/27/seaworld-twitter-questions/#Ue9C2bUVIuqV

Sola, K. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Pretty Much Goes How You’d Expect. Huffpost Green. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/27/seaworld-twitter-fail_n_6950902.html

Lime Crime & The Downfall of the Velvetine

By: Chelsea Williams

Just how important is Social Media PR in 2016? Can companies get by without it? Read how one of the most revolutionary makeup companies of the decade became the most hated one.

Lime Crime, a cosmetic company based out of Los Angeles, was founded by owner Doe Deere in 2008; but they didn’t get their big break until late 2014/early 2015 when they launched the first ever vegan liquid to matte lipstick to hit the market – BIG deal. ‘Velvetines’ as they are called, TOTALLY blew up all over social media, no company had yet made a product quite like this before and social media Beauty Guru’s jumped ALL OVER the Velvetines. Left and right, leaders were dedicating videos to reviewing and demoing the product for their followers, and because of those videos, millions of consumers from all over the world were fighting to get their hands on a Velvetine. But the success was short lived. In January of 2015, tragedy struck the company with scandal after scandal.

First, it came to light that Lime Crime’s products might possible not be genuinely vegan and may actually contain harmful chemicals. People had chemical and allergic reactions to the lipstick. The next thing that happened was that people alleged that Lime Crime’s products were repackaged from Chinese manufactures, and sold as their own – deceiving the consumer and making huge profits from doing so. As if the integrity of your product being questioned is not bad enough press for a company’s reputation, near the end of February, Lime Crime’s entire security system was breached, and thousands of consumers fell victim to identity theft and fraud. Just as fast as those powerful social media Beauty Guru’s had posted positive reviews about Lime Crime & the Velveltines, they began posting videos encouraging followers to boycott the company altogether.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.41.14 PM

(YouTube, 2016)

Even though Lime Crime had a revolutionary product that sold like hotcakes upon release, their reputation was severely damaged.

After studying PR in college for the past four years, I have come to believe that there is no scandal/crisis that can’t be remedied or at least made better – as long as your PR team is good at what they do! Most scandals that ruin reputations are due to the PR team not managing the crisis properly by making the right decisions – not because the crisis was beyond repair.

And this is what happened with Lime Crime. Following this series of crises, many customers turned to the comment section of their Instagram to express personal dissatisfaction with the company because the customer service operators were so rude and insensitive to their issues that they felt they had no where else to go – this is where Lime Crime FIRST went wrong. A company should provide customer service that puts the customer’s feelings and concerns first, and provide the best remedy that they can possible offer. On top of having a terrible customer service center, the owner of Lime Crime – Doe Deere – began to respond to customers with hateful, rude comments, such as this reply to a customer:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.43.27 PM.png

(Instagram, 2015)

Most PR professionals would advice against calling your customers “dumbass[es]” – and if Deere didn’t respond with nasty comments, she would simply delete the comment all together. Lime Crime also did not release a press statement for months following the security breach, leaving customers in the dark, and missing money. Lime Crime did not permanently ruin their company’s reputation because the integrity of their products quality was questioned, or because they experienced a security breach – these things happen ALL the time with companies and are easily remedied – the reason Lime Crime permanently damaged their reputation and made the ‘Velvetine’ campaign a complete and utter social fail, is because they did not make their consumer a priority. If Deere had hired proper PR professionals instead of running her mouth and spewing hateful comments towards the very people that were putting money in her pocket, Lime Crime could still be successful today!

So, can a company do the DIY PR thing, and still be successful? Sure, if your company is perfect and has no chance of experience any sort of crisis. When you consider the dark side of what publicist do: crisis management – there is very little chance that a company will be able to repair their reputation or image without a strong PR team; so if you want to avoid a social fail like Lime Crime’s, then you most definitely need to hire a strong PR team – even in 2016.


Want More Information? Check out the following sites:

Life Crime: Official Press Release

Reddit – Lime Crime Scandal

Still Unaware of Lime Crime Controversy?

Lime Crime: Flush your glitter down the shitter


Why Lime Crime Is The Most Hated Beauty Company On The Internet


External Sources:

1. A. (n.d.). Lime Crime: Beneath The Glitter. |Lipsticks & Lightsabers. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.lipsticksandlightsabers.com/2010/01/lime-crime-beneath-glitter.html

2. Make Up Company Founder Fails to Inform Customers of Issues. (2015). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://thebannercsi.com/2015/05/05/make-up-company-founder-fails-to-inform-customers-of-issues/

3. Chapman, G. (n.d.). Lime Crime & The Scary Truth About Product Safety. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.refinery29.com/2015/08/93130/lime-crime-lipsticks-illegal-additives-fda-approval

4. M. (2014). Are you still unaware of the lime crime controversy? – My Pink Fairy. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.mypinkfairy.com/still-unaware-lime-crime-controversy/

5. Dries, K. (2015, February 19). Lime Crime’s Website Is Hacked, Customer Information Stolen. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://jezebel.com/lime-crimes-website-is-hacked-customer-information-sto-1686744501

Did DiGiorno Always #MakeTheRightCall?

By: Sophia Borghese

Many people say they want others to look at them the way they look at pizza. Because pizza is much beloved by many, it’s easy for our favorite comfort food to gain a lot of positive attention on social media. DiGiorno — the best thing since delivery pizza — certainly has done well on many platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

Currently, their campaign slogan is #MakeTheRightCall, which totally works for their brand. This is because the best thing about DiGiorno is that it makes pizza much easier than picking up the phone and, yet, equally as incredible to eat. This hashtag is used on pretty much everything they post online now, and it totally works for them as their pizza is totally call-free. Sadly enough, DiGiorno has not always made the right calls via social, because things got a little bit rough for them in 2015 when they used #WhyIStayed in one of their tweets.

#WhyIStayed was originally a hashtag used by those defending for women who’ve been in abusive relationships. It’d gone viral on Twitter a soon after former Baltimore Ravens player, Rice Ray, punched his wife, Janay Palmer, unconscious. Because Ray was an NFL player, of course, they his case of being an abusive hubby is one of the few cases the media chooses to cover. However, many women have gone through similar struggles and all of them wanted to bring awareness to it on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2559-02-15 at 18.42.58.png

Derived from: twitter.com

Because #WhyIStayed highlights a very sensitive topic for women, posting it to promote a such light hearted topic as pizza did not go over well. Because this hashtag already links to a feed filled with women’s hard-to-hear tweets, DiGiorno should have thought more carefully to see who exactly the post would impact the most.

Moments after the company posted “You had pizza. #WhyIStayed,” DiGiorno lovers were infuriated. Overall Twitter users were implying in tweets that they wanted the pizza brand to apologize to all the women who’d faced and shared such hurtful and heartbreaking moments online. However, DiGiorno continued to write apologetic tweets on Twitter that had a number of pizza eaters upset.

Screen Shot 2559-02-15 at 18.46.58

Derived from: twitter.com

The thing that’s highly important in social media, as easy as it is to post things, is that everything requires a bit of prior research. This is definitely a lesson that DiGiorno (along with other social media content creators) should have learned from this very small but moving message on the internet. Every hashtag has its routes, and everything else social media does too. Because of that, even the most simple words or hashtags to write can say too much or give off the wrong message. Like the hashtag used in this campaign.

In order to assure that DiGiorno and other pizza brands are seen up to their potential, they need to be original and tweet slowly. Even though they deleted this tweet, it’s still on people’s minds and certainly is not fully deleted. People continued to talk about it for a while after things had happened. Besides if a moment like this is powerful enough for people at BuzzFeed and Ad Week to be talking about it, many will still continue to hear about it.

So next time DiGiorno, please #MakeTheRightCall on Twitter!

“Lessons From These 15 Epic Social Media Fails | SEJ.” Search Engine Journal. N.p., 12 May 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/learned-15-epic-social-media-fails/121432/

“Facebook Logo.” DiGiorno. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. https://www.facebook.com/digiorno/?fref=ts

“DiGiorno Accidentally Tried To Advertise Their Pizza In A Hashtag About Domestic Violence.” BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/digiorno-whyistayed-you-had-pizza#.gumk6rB0j

“DiGiorno Is Really, Really Sorry About Its Tweet Accidentally Making Light of Domestic Violence.” AdWeek. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/digiorno-really-really-sorry-about-its-tweet-accidentally-making-light-domestic-violence-159998

DiGiorno Mistakenly Advertised Pizza In a Hashtag About Domestic Violence

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 http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/digiorno-whyistayed-you-had-pizza#.ofwOWnQXl

Burt, B. (2015). Valuable Lessons From 5 Shockingly Bas Social Media Fails. Retrieved from http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/04/valuable-lessons-5-shockingly-bad-social-media-fails/

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 http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/digiorno-really-really-sorry-about-its-tweet-accidentally-making-light-domestic-violence-159998

Rogers, A. (2015). The Science of Why No One Agrees On the Color of This Dress. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2015/02/science-one-agrees-color-dress/

Winchel, B. (2014). Social media lessonsfrom DiGiorno’s hashtag fail. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Social_media_lessons_from_DiGiornos_hashtag_fail_17234.aspx


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