In 2012, numerous brands and small businesses suffered serious backlash on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook for offensive tweets, questionable ad campaigns and controversial company statements.
Here we take a look at a few examples of the biggest social media fails this year. Don’t let your brand make the list in 2013!
After a gunman killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the word “Aurora” began trending on Twitter. Not long after, online retailer Celeb Boutique wondered, in a tweet, whether that trend was due to a Kim Kardashian-inspired dress it sells, dubbed the Aurora.
Twitter users bashed the retailer for being oblivious; many others accused the company of using a tragedy to promote its apparel.
In an attempt to apologize, the brand tweeted:
“We didn’t check what the trend was; hence the confusion, again we do apologise.”
The retailer explained later that its public relations team is not based in the U.S. and “had not checked the reason for the trend” on Twitter.
Hurricane Sandy devastated roughly nine states along the eastern seaboard, pummeling New York and New Jersey and leaving over 110 dead.
Instead of sending well wishes, American Apparel targeted customers in the states hit by the storm with an ad that read: “In case you’re bored during the storm, just Enter SANDYSALE at Checkout.”
The advertisement led to responses on twitter that ranged from anger to disgust. Some users said they’d forever boycott the brand.
CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over his marketing team capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake. Part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going.”
American Apparel wasn’t the only brand to make an insensitive tweet during Hurricane Sandy. On Monday, when the storm was just making landfall in New York, the brand tweeted:
“All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?”
The tweet included a Foursquare check-in at “Frankenstorm Apocalypse – Hurricane Sandy.”
The brand later removed the tweet and offered the following apology:
“To all impacted by #Sandy, stay safe. Our check-in and tweet earlier were only meant to remind all to keep safe and indoors.”
Many on Twitter accused the Gap of attempting to take advantage of the storm to sell clothes.
A KitchenAid employee accidently used the company’s Twitter handle to send out a disparaging remark about Obama and his grandmother during the last presidental debate, inciting a barrage of retweets and comments from other users.
The message was quickly deleted and replaced by a message, which apologized for the Obama remark.
“Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion,” the second message read.
KitchenAid also said that the offensive message was accidentally tweeted to the corporate account by a member of the company’s social media team. The person meant to send the message through a personal Twitter account. The company also said the individual would no longer be tweeting for the brand.
Owner and chef of the Austin, Texas-based restaurant Thai Noodle House, Eddie Nimibutr, posted the following comment regarding the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec 14:
“I’m failing to give a damn about the CT shooting,” wrote the Thailand-born Nimibutr on Friday. “I don’t care if a bunch of white kids got killed. F**k Post-Racial bullshit. When kids from minority groups get shot, nobody cares. When Israel launched missiles at the school on Gaza, everybody was too busy jerking off. Why should i care about people who dont give a damn about me? Personal responsibility, right?”
The company removed the post and said Nimibutr was no longer employed at the shop. They also said he was never the owner. But the damage was done as reviewers on Yelp flooded the shop’s page with one star reviews. Some even threatened Nimibutr with physical violence.