Ohio University Strategic Social Media

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Category: Social Fail (page 2 of 7)

Heinz Gets Messy With QR Codes

A consumer was using his cell phone to learn more about consumer-driven competition with the help of a Heinz QR code. The code didn’t lead to the outcome he was hoping for—an entry for a personalized ketchup bottle—it led to another vice that certainly was not appropriate for a Happy Meal with fries.

In June of 2015, a German consumer, Daniel Korell, viewed a porn website as a result of scanning an old Heinz bottle’s QR code from a competition for product design that lasted from 2012 to 2014, according to The Guardian. Heinz bought the domain name sagsmithheinz.de for the time period of the competition and not for much longer, apparently. A German adult entertainment site took over the domain name after the competition ended.

At least Korell wasn’t offended by the mistake and actually found it amusing, according to the BBC. Korell also tried using different phones to input the code manually, but it still took him to the adult entertainment website with each try. He decided to report the issue on a platform that encompasses what Pew Research Center reports as 72% of all Internet users.

“This ketchup is probably not for minors,” Korell wrote on the official Heinz Facebook page under a picture showing the ketchup bottle with the X-rated site it linked him to, according to Business Insider.


Original image by Daniel Korrell. Retrieved from BBC Technology.

“I happened to scan it during lunch and I was a bit surprised where I got redirected to,” Korell told the BBC. “I found it rather funny and thought it was worth [sharing] on Heinz’s Facebook page.”

Heinz apologized in response to Korell’s post, and explained that the domain name was purchased by another company after the competition reached its end. In addition, Heinz extended the competition for the circumstance and offered Korell the opportunity to design a new label for them, according to AdWeek. Heinz sent Korell a new bottle of Ketchup as well, according to BBC. Numerous sources reporting on the issue received an email message apology from Heinz.

FunDorado, the adult entertainment website, did not publicly comment on the mishap, but did respond to Korell’s Facebook post about the mistake in a direct message shortly after.

“Hello Daniel Korell, wow! Has Heinz perhaps confused FunDorado’s Sexy Lila with its Lila Ketchup EZ Squirt? However, you won’t of course be going away empty handed. We’re giving you a year’s free access to FunDorado.com,” FunDorado said to Korell, according to CNN Money online.

In the end, Korell still received the opportunity he set out for and even more thanks to FunDorado’s quick purchase of the domain name. His trial of Heinz’ hot ketchup with Sriracha may have been a bit spicier than he intended, though. While Heinz took the measures it could by publicly apologizing and explaining the issue, it should probably be more careful in measuring its limited time for domain name usage for future competitions. It’s a wonder how the company managed to keep this discovery to a minimum of one infamous report on social media.


Gibbs, Samuel. (2015). Heinz says sorry for ketchup QR code that links to porn site. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/19/heinz-ketchup-qr-code-links-porn

Kiefaber, David. (2015). Heinz Is Very Sorry for Ketchup Bottle’s QR Code That Led to a Porn Site The perils of letting a domain lapse. AdWeek. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/heinz-very-sorry-ketchup-bottles-qr-code-led-porn-site-165469

Kircher, Madison Malone. (2015) A man in Germany was surprised when the QR code on the back of his Heinz Ketchup bottle led to a porn site. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/heinz-ketchup-bottle-qr-code-links-to-porn-site-2015-6

Lee, Dave. (2015). Heinz QR porn code too saucy for ketchup customer. BBC Technology. Retreived from: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33200142

Smith, Aaron. (2015). Heinz apologizes for ketchup bottle QR code linked to XXX site. CNN Money. Retrieved from: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/19/news/companies/heinz-ketchup-porn/

Pew Research Center. (2015). Facebook Demographics, Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/mobile-messaging-and-social-media-2015/2015-08-19_social-media-update_07/


NYPD Hopes for the Best but Receives the Worst

By: Justin Gamble

In April of 2014 The New York Police Department sent out a tweet that asked New Yorkers to post pictures of themselves with members of the NYPD. The department tweeted, “Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us and tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook.” While NYPD expected to receive smiling pictures of citizens with NYPD members, this plan inevitably backfired when instead they began to receive unflattering pictures of officers making arrests, fighting with citizens, and even some photos of officers with weapons drawn. The timing of this tweet wasn’t exactly ideal for the NYPD, mostly because it was around the time that Occupy Wall Street was taking place. As soon as members of the Occupy Wall Street caught on to the hashtag, the Twitter world was flooded with pictures of police brutality accompanied by negative and sarcastic comments.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.11.21 PM

Shortly after #myNYPD was brought to light other major cities began to see similar hashtags. #myAPD (Atlanta) and #myCPD (Chicago) were other hashtags that saw similar negativity. One tweet coming out of Chicago read, “#myCPD extending his fist out to the community.” accompanied by a photo of a Chicago police officer who looked like he was about to punch a person standing with a camera.

The virality of the campaign is undeniable; it definitely took the Twitter universe by storm. #myNYPD received 43,000 mentions. Of those mentions only 5% were actually positive tweets supporting the NYPD, 15% were negative tweets, and the remainder were recorded as neutral. Tweets not only came from New York, but all over the United States and there were even tweets from Canada and Ecuador recorded. Men tend to use social media less frequently then women do, but surprisingly 64% #myNYPD tweets were from males.

The president of an integrated communications and public affairs firm called Ervin-Hill Strategy, Dan Hill, noted that Twitter is a great place to help gain awareness for a brand, but NYPD is not a brand so the campaign did not go over well. The NYPD’s Twitter account can be put to better use like gaining information from the general public about suspects in cases, “That’s what they really need to focus on and do it as well as they can.” Hill explained in an interview with IBTimes.

The campaign quickly gained national attention when media companies like Vanity Fair, Vice, USA Today and Complex all covered the failed social media campaign. After all of the negative feedback that #myNYPD received, the NYPD chose not to respond directly and decided to carry on as if it had never occurred. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton denied the failure shortly after it began to pick up steam saying, “Send us your photos, good or bad. I welcome the extra attention.” He also clarified that the negative pictures weren’t portraying police misconduct, but sometimes this is the kind of work officers have to do.

I think this campaign was extremely unfortunate for the NYPD. The NYPD has been faced with difficult situations in the past and has had to take extreme measures to keep the city safe. If a town or smaller city had tweeted something similar I’m sure there would have been much more supportive tweets. If I had been in charge of the NYPD Twitter I don’t think I would have used this strategy. Knowing how media has controlled the image of the police in the past, it was very likely this campaign would receive a negative reaction. As one Twitter user tweeted, “Lesson number 1 about hashtags: just because you created one doesn’t mean you own it. #myNYPD.”




Bratton on Twitter Fail: I Welcome the Attention. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYPD-Twitter-Backlash-myNYPD-Fail-Negative-Photos-Flood-Social-Media-256275661.html

S. W. (2014). Did the NYPD Twitter screw up have any real effect on the department? Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://digiday.com/brands/nypd-hashtag-fail/

Ford, D., Lear, J., Ferrigno, L., & Gross, D. (n.d.). #D’oh! NYPD Twitter campaign backfires. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/22/tech/nypd-twitter-fail/

Lessons Learned from #myNYPD: Is There a Silver Lining? – In Public Safety. (2014). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://inpublicsafety.com/2014/04/lessons-learned-from-mynypd-is-there-a-silver-lining/

M.V. (2014). Not My NYPD: What Happened With The Failed Twitter Campaign That Unsuspectingly Encouraged Police Brutality Photos. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/not-my-nypd-what-happened-failed-twitter-campaign-unsuspectingly-encouraged-police-1575577

J. K. (2014). The Most Telling Photos From the NYPD’s Epic Twitter Fail. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.colorlines.com/articles/most-telling-photos-nypds-epic-twitter-fail

IHOP tweets inappropriate breast joke #SocialFail

by Abbey Saddler

IHOP is known for their delicious pancakes, hints IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes. Their Twitter account is famous for their mouth watering images of their glamorous pancakes with many clever and trendy captions. The hip tweets were intended to attract the younger generation on Twitter; which has been proven to be very successful by the increase in their retweets.

But it was all fun and games until they posted a very sexist tweet. The tweet read “flat but has a GREAT personality.”


Source Social Media Week

The purpose of the tweet obviously was not to offend anyone, but to make a joke about small breasted women. It wasn’t long after the post was tweeted that costumers were responding with outrage. Responses came from people all over including celebrities such as Ben Dreyfuss and Judd Legum. E totally bashed IHOP’s entire Twitter account stating “Take a breath, IHOP. Don’t you know that as long as there are stoners and senior citizens, your target markets will never abandon you?”

IHOP deleted the tweet and attempted to apologize. The tweet read “Earlier today we tweeted something dumb and immature that does not reflect what IHOP stands for. We’re sorry.”

Even with the poor attempt at an apology, this was a complete social fail. The trendy tweets were a great idea, considering Twitter is primarily a younger audience. The short but comical tweets with a mouth watering picture definitely attracts the younger generation. IHOP’s retweets were booming. But you cannot insult women along the way. It was very downgrading to women and more specifically the younger women who are more susceptible to be insulted by the post.

There really is no way to correct this epic failure. The only answer is simply do not do this again. Fortunately for them, it appears that they are still pretty successful with their trendy tweets minus this horrible attempt at a “boob joke.” First, I think whoever posted the tweet through the IHOP account should have been fired. I’m not exactly sure how many people have access to the account information and how they get approved to tweet their posts, but I think it would be smart to have a team of professionals that specialize in social media. The team could generate the trendy slang-spun tweets and they all should agree whether or not the post is appropriate and effective enough to post. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a woman friendly post to gain the forgiveness of the female followers.

Matias, C. (2016, January 5). The top 10 most embarrassing social media fails from 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2016/01/most-embarrasing-social-media-fails-2015/

Mosbergen, D. (2015, October 19). IHOP tweeted a joke about breasts. It didn’t go too well. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ihop-tweet-breast-joke_us_56249e61e4b08589ef47eacb

IHOP sends out controversial tweet suggesting women’s breasts are like pancakes. (2015, October 19). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/10/19/ihop-sends-out-suggestive-tweet-about-pancakes-and-women-breasts/

IHOP twitter account. (2012, January). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://twitter.com/IHOP?ref_src=twsrc^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

Haikel, D. (2015, October 19). IHOP Lets Loose With Sexist Boob Joke as Twitter Account Has Quarter-Life Crisis. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.eonline.com/news/707878/ihop-lets-loose-with-sexist-boob-joke-as-twitter-account-has-quarter-life-crisis

MTV Goes Way Too Far This Time

Tiffany Bey

 MTV launched a campaign titled, “Look Different” sometime in July of 2015 during the Video Music Awards. The campaign released a commercial titled, “White Squad” and it is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen on television.

They released a commercial that “posits a Geek Squad-style team of chalk-hued, corporate-consultant types eager to assist people of color with stuff like hailing cabs, renting apartments and courtroom appearances”. The spokesperson made statements such as, “Is your skin color holding you back? Are you tired of systemic prejudice ruining your day?” and many other extremely offensive.

I wish I could come up with a rational “purpose” of why they would release something so offensive, but I can’t come up with anything. Ratings? Media attention? I have no idea, but I’m not at all surprised MTV did release it. MTV has always been known to do some crazy things on their network. Therefore, I don’t really know what their motive was for making up this sort of thing. However, many media sites reported that they think their purpose was to be “satirical” and funny, but there is a fine line when it comes to speaking on specific issues, especially race.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I think this campaign was a social fail because it didn’t connect with the viewers at all. Of course Twitter went in an uproar, and it was tweeted so much that it trended in the #1 trending spot. Most of the tweets that I came across were outraged, from both white and black people. I think that if MTV truly wanted to make a stance on how African-Americans experience injustice on a day-to-day basis, they could’ve done it in a tasteful way. I read this quote that mirrors my exact feelings on the situation. It says, “It kind of came off as though it was making fun of the issue,” one person wrote, “as opposed to actually putting it in a way that says this needs to stop.” I don’t think a person or persons’ injustice is something to be joked about, especially with everything that has been going on in the media; police brutality etc. Maybe MTV did want to make a stance against microaggressions, we will never know, but I do know that next time they want to launch a campaign/commercial they should be more aware of how they’re going to make certain people feel first because as a regular MTV watcher, this campaign made me anti MTV for awhile.


Ad of the Day: People of Color Finally Get White Privilege on Demand With White Squad. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-people-color-finally-get-white-privilege-demand-white-squad-165948

Dailymail.com, C. S. (2015). ‘It’s ignorant garbage’: MTV under fire from viewers over ‘spoof’ video about racism and white privilege – which it claims is meant to highlight and combat discrimination . Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3170851/MTV-fire-viewers-spoof-video-racism-white-privilege-claims-meant-highlight-combat-discrimination.html

Jenkins, N. (n.d.). New Spoof Ad Takes Controversial Jab at White Privilege. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://time.com/3960382/white-squad-privilege-look-different-mtv-ad-spoof-commercial/

MTV’s Look Different. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.lookdifferent.org/whitesquad

White Squad. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6JrJFJs0GA

#UpForWhatever turns into #NoMeansNo

Tyler Prich

In an industry synonymous with questionable morals and risky behavior, alcohol companies need to pay special attention to how they market their products. As part of Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever campaign,  they rolled out 140 messages on bottles highlighting that Bud Light will take away any inhibitions holding you back from a good time. The campaign had a long, successful run, thanks to it’s fun, light-hearted feel. Until one message slipped through the marketing team that caused an uproar on social media. The message printed on the blue label stated that Bud Light is “The perfect beer for removing ‘No’ from your vocabulary for the night.” An image of the first surfaced on Reddit and quickly spread through the Internet, complete with plenty of backlash.


Photo: usatoday.com

It’s safe to assume that whoever came up with this had no intention of offending anyone, but many believe that the message is unintentionally promoting rape culture, as well as reckless behavior like drunk driving. People were quick to react on social media, posting things like,  “What story do you tell with your brand? For Bud Light, it’s ‘Screw consent. Date rape is awesome!’ #UpForWhatever.” Thousands of responses like this were directed at the beer company using other hashtags like #NoMeansNo. Some even said that the message also advocates drinkers to drive drunk.

Bud Light swiftly issued an apology on their website. A statement by vice president Alexander Lambrecht reads, “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior. As a result, we have immediately ceased production of this message on all bottles.”  The company did not release what percentage of bottles had the offensive message printed on them, and it’s hard to say how many are out there because of the number of taglines they released in the campaign.

The damage had been done to the brand, and this isn’t the first time that the Anheuser-Busch company has landed in hot water recently. In celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in 2015, Bud Light tweeted out, “On St. Patrick’s Day you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.” The tweet was quickly deleted after the public took it as promoting sexual harassment and voiced their concerns. It’s hard to fathom how such sexist remarks can make it through such a large company without any questions. Some believe that females in large companies are too intimidated to voice their concerns. After all, Anheuser-Busch only has one female in an executive position.

Sexual Assault is a huge issue in today’s society, especially in the segment that Bud Light targets – college-aged men and women. Bud Light is paying the price for its lack of attention to detail on all fronts, especially social media, where these young men and women are most active. Anheuser-Busch had struggled to hit the female market for years, until the recent release of non-beer products such as the Lime-A-Rita and other mixed drink options. Unfortunately, I feel this company has taken a big step back. The company is new at hitting the female market, so research is needed within the company to accurately market to women. All in all, let’s just agree that the people at Bud Light committed a complete #SocialFail that should’ve been thrown out at the first meeting. How the message made it into the final 140, we may never know.

Bukszpan, D. (2015, April 29). What was Bud Light thinking? Consumers keep ‘no’ in their vocabulary. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from  http://fortune.com/2015/04/29/bud-light-up-for-whatever/

Griswold, A. (2015, April 29). Bud Light Dreams Up the Worst Possible Slogan for a Beer Company. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/04/29/bud_light_s_no_means_up_for_whatever_the_worst_possible_slogan_for_a_beer.html 

Hughes, T. (2015, April 29). Bud Light apologizes for ‘removing no’ label. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/28/bud-light-label/26532085/

Okyle, C. (2015, April 28). Bud Light’s Lighthearted ‘Up for Whatever’ Campaign Takes a Dark Turn. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245608

Strom, S. (2015, April 28). Bud Light Withdraws Slogan After It Draws Ire Online. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/business/bud-light-withdraws-slogan-after-it-draws-ire-online.html?_r=0

Starbucks Gets a Double Shot of Backlash with #RaceTogether Campaign

Kelsey Miller

When Starbucks put the conversation of race into coffee shops, it made people second-guess when ordering a black coffee, a caramel macchiato or a white chocolate mocha.

Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz expressed his concerns with race relations in the U.S. to partners (Starbucks refers to all employees as partners) shortly after the Ferguson, NYC and Oakland shootings and asked their opinions.

Shultz received insights from Seattle partners about their experience with racial tensions. After holding 2,000 open forums with partners sharing their personal stories of racism in L.A., Oakland, St. Louis, New York City and Chicago, the CEO decided to use his chain to make it a forum for all customers.

And the Race Together campaign was born. The purpose of the campaign was simple: initiate the conversation of race. Baristas were asked to put “Race Together” on coffee cups to strike up a conversation with customers about race with the hope of it becoming a national conversation online with the hashtag, #RaceTogether. The New York Times and USA Today gave Starbucks a one-page ad space to show support of the cause.

Then, the people spoke up…


Tweet from AdWeek (bit.ly/1Luo1tl)


Tweet from BBC (bbc.in/1GWVjKU)

Crystal Fleming from the Huffington Post voiced her concerns about the lack of formal knowledge on race. Because Starbucks’ intention was to merely have baristas starts convos about race, the company made the point when confronted on Twitter that they were not educating their partners about race through formal training. As an African American woman that is educated on race, Fleming pointed out that racial ignorance is really harmful in that it could alienate people that have been affected by racism.

“I do not want to hear from random members of the public who have not studied race share their uninformed opinions with or around me in the early morning hours,” Fleming said.

She’s obviously not alone…


Tweet from Buzzworthy


Tweet from AdWeek

Kate Taylor, from Entrepreneur, agreed with Fleming but also took the defense of the baristas in her article. She’s concerned with the barista POV in the things they would hear if talking about race with others. If a customer were to say something ignorant or offensive, is it the barista’s obligation to address it or take “the customer is always right” approach?

“…Race Together goes beyond offering a weak solution – it shifts the responsibility for finding a resolution to employees suddenly tasked with a role that was never in their job description,” Taylor said.

Another tell tale sign of the #socialfail of the campaign happened when VP of Global Communication, Corey duBrowa, deleted his Twitter account temporarily due to the criticism of the campaign.

“I was personally attacked through my Twitter account around midnight last night and the tweets represented a distraction from the respectful conversation we are trying to start around Race Together,” duBrowa told Business Insider. “I’ll be back on Twitter soon.”


Tweet from Business Insider


Tweet from Business Insider


Tweet from Business Insider

Yet another #socialfail sign is the fact that SNL made a spoof about it…

PR Week asked pros to analyze what went wrong with the campaign. David Johnson, CEO of Strategic vision told PR Week that more advertising would have been key.

“Starbucks failed to lay proper groundwork and preparation in launching this initiative. There was no massive explanation of what the company was seeking to do,” Johnson explained.

Mr. Johnson makes a great point in that there wasn’t much context to what the coffee chain envisioned for this campaign. It just happened all of a sudden. The idea was unrealistic in this day in age. If Starbucks wanted to make a statement about race, another idea would be to invest in putting employees through formal diversity training or donating money to professional organizations that focus on starting a conversation about race instead of taking matters into their own hands.

In 2016, we’ll just leave it to Beyoncé to talk about race relations.



Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ Is A Visual Anthem. (2016, February 11). Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/02/08/466036710/beyonces-formation-is-a-visual-anthem

Bradley, D. (2015, March 18). How Starbucks can bounce back after Race Together flop. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.prweek.com/article/1338951/starbucks-bounce-back-race-together-flop

Crellin, O. (2015, March 17). Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign mocked online – BBC News. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31932351

Cullers, R. (2015, March 18). The Internet Is United in Despising Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Cup Campaign. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/internet-united-despising-starbucks-race-together-cup-campaign-163540

Fleming, C. (2015, March 19). #RaceTogether and the Harm of Racial Ignorance. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crystal-fleming/racetogether-and-the-harm-of-racial-ignorance_b_6895070.html

Maskeroni, A. (2015, March 30). Pep Boys Mechanics Reflect on Gender in SNL’s Perfect Spoof of Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/pep-boys-mechanics-reflect-gender-snls-perfect-spoof-starbucks-race-together-163748

Peterson, H. (2015, March 17). A Starbucks exec deleted his Twitter account after backlash over the company’s ‘race together’ campaign. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-race-together-campaign-2015-3

Starbucks Drops its ‘Race Together’ Campaign After One Week. (2015). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.buzzworthy.com/starbucks-call-it-quits-on-race-cups/

Taylor, K. (2015, March 17). Why the Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Campaign Is Bad for Business. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244035

What ‘Race Together’ Means for Starbucks Partners and Customers. (2015). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://news.starbucks.com/news/what-race-together-means-for-starbucks-partners-and-customers

Clorox Had One Hard Time Cleaning Up This Social Fail

By: Kelsey Crowley

In April of 2015, Apple released the new set of emojis, which mainly included sets of racially diverse emojis for many of the existing ones that people have been long awaiting , among a number other new emojis. While many people were excited about all of the new emojis, Clorox…well, was not. In response to the 8.3.1 Apple update, Clorox sent out this tweet to express their feelings about the update:

Clorox's "Where's the bleach" tweet from nydailynews.com

Clorox’s “Where’s the bleach” tweet from nydailynews.com

Take the tweet how you will, but many of Clorox’s costumers were not overly thrilled with . They were not overly thrilled so much that Clorox received a heavy amount of backlash. For example, twitter user @DriNicole  tweeted “…You need to clean up your PR person. Put some bleach on your distasteful marketing ideas,” in addition to many other tweets that were not in Clorox’s favor. After receiving a numerous amount of negative responses, Clorox admitted to their faults by tweeting something in response:

Clorox's response to the "Where's the bleach" tweet backlash. Courtesy of btls.com

Clorox’s response to the “Where’s the bleach” tweet backlash. Courtesy of btls.com

In an article written by wnyc.org , an interview was conducted with Clorox’s CEO, Benno Dorer. Dorer said, in a nutshell, “the tweet was not meant to be racist, rather, to express disappointment that there was still no bleach bottle emoji.” In a nationalreview.com article , spokesperson Molly Steinkrauss said the company apologizes for any insensitivities and hurt feelings this tweet may have caused. She also said, in an interview with theguardian.com “that their intentions were to never offend anyone and it was ‘meant to be light-hearted, but it fell flat.’ “

What do all of these apologies from company spokespeople, the CEO, and their Twitter mean? It means that Clorox’s campaign for a bleach bottle emoji was short-lived and failed incredibly. And, on top of it, they admitted to messing up. They messed up so much that, observed by medium.com , Clorox’s engagement on social medium hit an all-time low for a decent period of time after the tweet was released in April. Medium.com mentions that Clorox’s twitter account only averaged 19.5 engagements per tweet, meaning for the entire year of 2015, they did not increase their social media presence one bit.

Overall, it doesn’t matter what Clorox did or did not mean when they sent out that tweet. The fact of the matter is that their PR and marketing team didn’t consider all the possibilities of what their Tweet could mean in the context of it being posted. Clorox needed to remember that they were sending out a message through text in a tweet; a medium that does not express emotion or anything else.  If they truly wanted to campaign just for a bleach bottle emoji, the tweet could have been worded completely differently to ensure their message got across. Perhaps, simply adding “Where’s the bleach bottle?” could have done the trick.

The lesson to be learned by Clorox’s Social Media Campaign Fail is that always remember to check yourself, before you wreck yourself. You may be thinking one thing when you go to tweet it, but the world could see it in a completely different way.



Foxnews. (2015, April 10). Clorox sparks controversy with tweet about ‘bleach’ emoji. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/04/10/clorox-sparks-controversy-wtih-tweet-about-bleach-emoji.html

N.a. (2015, April 11). Clorox in hot water over ‘bleach’ tweet as emojis become more racially diverse. Theguardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/11/clorox-in-hot-water-over-bleach-tweet-as-emojis-become-more-racially-diverse

N.a. [ULTRAVIVDSCENE]. (2015, April 8). racially diverse emoji characters are officially on iOS 8.3, i am in tears of joy, finally ppl are listening. [Tweet]. Retrieved from  https://twitter.com/ULTRAVlVIDSCENE/status/585894899385503744

Npr. (2015, July 14). Clorox ceo goes beyond bleach. WYNC. Retrieved from http://www.wnyc.org/story/clorox-ceo-goes-beyond-bleach/

National Review: Timpf, K. (2015, April 10). Clorox accused of racism for asking why there’s no bleach emoji. National Review. Retrieved from http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/416763/clorox-accused-racism-asking-why-theres-no-bleach-emoji-katherine-timpf

Maskeron, A. (2015, April 8). Cloroc explains emoji tweet that many thought was weirdly racist. Adweek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/clorox-explains-emoji-tweet-many-thought-was-weirdly-racist-163969

Meyer, K. (2016, January). 2015: The year in social media disasters. Medium.com. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@crowdbabble/2015-the-year-in-social-media-disasters-9cf0d53b60aa#.ktkevrgek

JCPenney’s #TypingWithMittens a #SocialFail

By: Katherine Abbott

JCPenney, well-known for is successful chain of department stores, has undergone many business restructures over the last couple of years. The company has made various efforts to increase its customer base, while retaining its current customers by rebranding itself. With the help of a new CEO, the business strategy changed to “Every Day” prices, where the prices on items would replace the use of coupons. After sales plummeted, the company decided to make a shift back to a promotional pricing strategy. With decline in business continuing, the company has decided in January 2016 to relaunch in the business of selling major appliances (Wiki, 2015).

JCPenney has undergone many changes and it is important to understand some of the brands history to realize how much JCPenney’s #SocialFail impacted the brand. With so much going on in the company, the brand needed a successful marketing campaign to promote the new brands it was becoming involved with. With the SuperBowl quickly approaching, it was a no-brainer the company would launch a creative marketing campaign to sell Team USA mittens for the Olympics. JCPenney’s idea was clever but its audience on social media, specifically, Twitter, did not think the same (Costill, 2015).

In hopes of selling the mittens, JCPenney had the idea of Tweeting during the
SuperBowl while wearing the FullSizeRendermittens. JCPenney would send out misspelled tweets that would hopefully create positive conversation about the brand (Costill, 2015). The outcome was the complete opposite. The brand successfully got the spotlight at the SuperBowl but for all the wrong reasons. Twitter fans thought that whoever was in charge of JCPenney’s Twitter account was having “too much fun” at the SuperBowl. Fans starting making jokes that whoever was writing the Tweets for the company was intoxicated because of the misspelled words. It was not long before JCPenney figured out that its creative campaign took a turn for the worse (Berman, 2014).

JCPenney’s #TypingWithMittens is a great example of a #Social Fail. The company did get a lot of attention from it’s Twitter audience, which is difficult to do in the 25 million SuperBowl Tweets (Sullivan, 2014). Even other companies began to join in on the fun. Coors Light Tweet said, “@JCPenney We know football goes great with Coors Light, but please tweet responsibly (Heine, 2014).” Although the tweets making fun of JCPenney were humorous, it doesn’t help the fact that the company had made a huge social media blunder. There was a total of 131,000 tweets throughout the game. This included people who were retweeting or tweeting about the brand (Sullivan, 2014). Each of the tweets received close to 20,000 retweets and close to 10,000 likes per tweet (Ruggiero, 2014). JCPenney’s tweet not only devalued the brand but its tweets did not give a good reason to buy a pair of gloves (Picchi, 2014). If only the brand had a more clear and concise message, it may have created conversation in a positive light like some of the other brands.

JCPenney could have made this campaign work if it approached the idea a little differently. I think the brand had tried way too hard. The Tweets were not only misspelled but they came across confused. One Tweet asked if they were at a baseball game (Ruggiero, 2014). If the company would have stuck to a couple typos instead of complete confusion, I think the marketing campaign could have had a chance. JCPenney’s idea was cute and creative but I think the brand took it way too far. It would be a completely different if an employee actually came to work drunk, while trying to create an image for the brand. Now that would make an interesting story. Let this be a lesson, don’t “drink and tweet” or in JCPenney’s case, “Don’t tweet with mittens (Ruggiero, 2014).”



W. (2015, February). J.C.Penny. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._C._Penney

Costill, A. (2015, May 12). Lessons From These 15 Epic Social Media Fails | SEJ. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/learned-15-epic-social-media-fails/121432/

Berman, J. (2014, February 3). Someone Needs To Tell J.C. Penney It’s Trying Way Too Hard. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/jc-penney-drunk-tweet_n_4716708.html

Heine, C. (2014, February). JCPenney Isn’t Drunk Tweeting the Super Bowl-It’s Wearing Mittens. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/jc-penney-isnt-drunk-tweeting-super-bowl-its-wearing-mittens-155437

Picchi, A. (2014, February). J.C. Penney’s Super Bowl tweets backfire. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jc-penneys-drunk-super-bowl-tweets-backfire/

Ruggiero, R., & Ranasinghe, D. (2014, February 02). JC Penney’s Super Bowl tweeting tactics. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2014/02/02/jc-penneys-super-bowl-tweeting-tactics.html

Sullivan, D. (2014, February 02). It’s True: @JCPenney Might Have Won The Super Bowl Buzz. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://marketingland.com/jpc-win-superbowl-72739





ALDI Australia Experiences Twitter Cruelty in #SocialFail

By: Scott Moore

ALDI Australia’s Twitter account has learned that giving people a voice on Twitter is not always a good thing. The account attempted to encourage engagement with its customers by posting a tweet that included a picture as a form of media on January 29th, 2016. ALDI’s campaign strategy was to use Twitter to gather some fun and positive feedback from Twitter users about why they love ALDI. However, their tactic soon proved to be highly ineffective as they centered their feedback attempt around asking users to fill in the blank.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 3.41.35 PM

(Tweeted picture retrieved from: News.com.au. Original source: Twitter)

As provided in the link above the picture, Gavin Fernando of news.com.au establishes the dangers of management in allowing users to fill in the blanks and that it is “NEVER” a good idea. The reasoning he puts for this is that placing the good faith in the Internet for marketing campaigns has inevitably proven to be unsuccessful. Just ask Sea World.

Although the Twitter account had good intentions in mind when asking Twitter to provide reasons why they love their company, it didn’t take long for backlash to occur. ALDI simply became the latest company to find out just how brutal Internet and Twitter users can be. This total fail can be topped off by the responses received – those of which can be viewed as unsurprising to some familiar with the brutality of some Twitter users out there.

The responses followed similar themes along the lines of “I became an ALDI lover when I tasted (butts, your mum, horse, cheap beer, etc.) for the first time.” More gruesome and inappropriate responses were also tweeted out that proved to be both damaging and embarrassing for ALDI and their Australian Twitter account.

Noticeably, the users of Twitter not only retaliated with hatred responses, but as consumers, they even addressed how the campaign was a failed attempt:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.35.44 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.40.44 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.35.11 PM

(Tweeted pictures retrieved from NollyScoop & SmartCompany)

This goes to show how companies such as ALDI nowadays have a creative job in marketing to those consumers who are growing smarter of how they’re being targeted online.

After not receiving the kind of feedback they were expecting, ALDI concluded their Twitter campaign by removing the tweet. However, they kept it up on Facebook where it received a much warmer response. Mashable’s Johnny Lieu suggested perhaps because more grown-ups are on Facebook where more mature responses were found.

SharedMarketing provided what to and what not to do in social media marketing in relation to ALDI’s failed campaign. What I found interesting from their input on the result is how new media is changing the way companies market to their customers and target audiences. I came to this realization because social media can expose big budget companies like ALDI in how they can get it so wrong and how smaller budget companies – who are more social-savvy – can get it so right.

When proving that this was indeed a #SocialFail, look no further than SharedMarketing’s input on the don’ts in social media marketing of inadvertently encouraging criticism in a campaign by asking users on Twitter to “fill in the blank.”Another proof are simply the undesirable tweets (shown above) that were received by ALDI as a result of the campaign.

To improve this campaign there are a couple things I would do differently. For instance, I wouldn’t broadcast such a campaign unless there were already established locations as the first in South Australia opened five days after the campaign. I would also attempt to better monitor my social media platforms and keep up with what works best and where for campaigns. This is because Facebook proved to be the better option than Twitter for feedback from consumers in this case.

Had ALDI only posted the picture to Facebook, they could have prevented a #SocialFail and more doors would be open for further, and perhaps more creative, Twitter campaigns.


Anonymous (2016, February 2016). ALDI social media campaign hijacked. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2016/02/01/aldi-social-media-campaign-hijacked.html

Editor (2016, February 2016). ALDI Unveils One of the Best #Fails by Asking Customers What They Think. SharedMarketing. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.sharedmarketing.com.au/aldi-unveils-one-of-the-best-fails-by-asking-customers-what-they-think/

Fernando, Gavin (2016, January 29). ALDI Australia‘s cringeworthy new social media campaign. AU News. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/aldi-australias-cringeworthy-new-social-media-campaign/news-story/2d62ac9e0a7f32554fab85c9ce4e1354

Keating, Eloise (2016, January 29). ALDI social media campaign backfires after Twitter users were asked to fill in the blanks. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.smartcompany.com.au/marketing/49652-aldi-social-media-campaign-backfires-after-twitter-users-were-asked-to-fill-in-the-blanks.html

Lieu, Johnny (2016, January 29). Supermarket’s ‘fill in the blank’ campaign brings on immature humour. Mashable. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://mashable.com/2016/01/29/aldi-supermarket/#tPbM07M_LgqI

Ward, Stanley (2016, January 29). Twitter users respond to ALDI’s social media campaign. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.nollyscoop.com/general/18926-twitter-users-respond-to-aldi-s-social-media-campaign.html



Sink of SeaWorld #SocialFail

By Anna Rudin

As we know, SeaWorld is one of the most popular attractions in Orlando Florida, ranking the 10th most visited amusement park in the United States and nineteenth worldwide. The Shamu Stadium being one of the most admired live entertainments holding a seven million gallon home for the parks 7 killer whales. There has been much controversy over the issue of having such large species in a confined body of water; this has pushed some over the edge leading to a plethora of lawsuits and SeaWorld new marketing push, the “Ask SeaWorld” campaign.

March 27th , 2015 “Ask SeaWorld” marketing campaign includes TV and print ads also inviting the public to submit questions via twitter about how the company treats their animals. This backfired making it a top social fail on social media. This campaign created the trending hash tag on twitter #AskSeaWorld followed by @SeaWorld. Creators of this campaign thought it would encourage those who are interested in their parks or the mammals in general to ask about topics ranging from breeding to safety and training questions, little would they know, this would spiral in a negative direction. The twitter timeline got slammed with harsh comments from activists and animal lovers that were unhappy with the company and the living situations of their marine life.

The company has been under, struggling to convince the public that their orcas are not mistreated since the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and the Black Fish documentary in 2013, the Askseaworld.com campaign was supposed to help them by marketing well thought out questions about killer whale care to keep customers happy. The #AskSeaWorld was hijacked by animal right campaigners trending the #Emptythetanks, #blackfish along with quotes “are your tanks filled with orca tears?” many found that the campaign was not working and that the company had many misleading statements about the whales which caused even more uproar.

After years of negative publicity SeaWorld took the chance creating the new campaign to try to “counter misinformation”. The hash tag #AskSeaWorld was to promise answers from experts but opponents of SeaWorld were much more organized with their negative responses beating out the positive responses by a landslide. A rising question discussed that held debate was talking about how the company should stop being fixated on the AskSeaWorld campaign spending millions of dollars creating a website trying to find a solution for its image for the better, but instead should be spending more money on rehabbing the orcas making the environment as “natural as possible”. If I were to help this campaign on having a more positive outreach to the public I would agree with the statement above, I think spreading awareness on social media can in fact make or break a company, if SeaWorld wants people to look at them differently they should invest in making the living environments for orcas more sustainable and suitable for the large mammals.

This debate of having orcas in such a small living area has been an discussed over social media for years now.  Visit http://ask.seaworldcares.com/ and ask your own questions or check #AskSeaWorld on twitter to see how this social fail spiraled out of control.


Katie, L. (2015, March 27) ‘Ask seaworld’ marketing campaign backfires http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/27/news/companies/ask-seaworld-twitter/

Sabrina, W. (2015, March 29) SeaWorld #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Backfires Massively


Becky, P. (2015, March 31) “Are your tanks filled with orca tears?”


2015 SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment


Twitter.com use #AskSeaWorld or @SeaWorld






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