Social media has given our voices a 24-hour, multinational broadcasting signal. As a result, those regrettable conversations you used to have in face-to-face settings can now turn into front-page headlines.
Sometimes these gaffes are funny, such as when a staffer for a U.S. Congressman tweeted “Me likey Broke Girls” on the Congressman’s Twitter account. Other times, though, the mishap is much less innocuous. A tragedy or serious news event is not something brands should be using as a selling tool, but we’ve seen them ignore this sage advice time and time again.
We’ve seen it in Kenneth Cole’s infamous Arab Spring tweet, and earlier this year, Australian online retailer, Sellitonline, posted that it would donate to wild fire victims based on how many Facebook likes it received.
Now, Epicurious is in hot water for a couple of tweets it published this week in relation to the recent Boston Marathon bombing tragedy. It received instant backlash and has had to resort to an aggressive apology campaign on Twitter.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but brands need to leave these sort of catastrophic events alone. This is not an appropriate way to promote a brand. Messages of condolences are fine. Charitable donations are acceptable as well, as long as the donation is straightforward and not made into a contest like Sellitonline attempted to do.
At the end of the day, Epicurious did much more harm to its image that greatly outweighs any potential sales those tweets could have generated.