Time and time again we see it, people and brands making foolish mistakes with significant repercussions within the world of social media. Nestle famously botched things up for themselves by demanding a fake Kit Kat commercial (produced by Greenpeace) slamming them for their use of Palm Oil, be removed from the web. The video which up until that point was far from a viral success, suddenly went around the globe faster than Greenpeace could have dreamt it to. All thanks to Nestle ruffling feather. The public barrage aimed at Nestles poor handling of the case and sudden attention on their use of Palm Oil did not do them any favours and is now a case study that I personally feel every client should take note of.
One would think that with such a large brand going through such a public PR battle via social channels, some lessons would be learnt.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole is the latest to thoughtlessly act via a social media platform and surprise surprise, is now watching his brand fall from grace. Kenneth made the very foolish choice to hijiack a hashtag in Twitter to promote his latest collection. Now hashtag hijacking is not rare, but it’s use can not be taken lightly. To do it requires very strategic thinking or it can backfire. Like in this case. See image below:
The Cairo hashtag was being used as a news source to share events from troubled Eygpt. The most insensitive thing about this, is that a significant amount of people are losing their lives due to the unrest. This is no time at all for a brand, representing something as irrelevant as fashion, to hijack a hashtag where concerned users are sharing serious content.
But I will give credit to Kenneth Cole for addressing his stupidity via an apology post. Despite it seeming to be heartfelt, he has opened himself up to an onslaught of criticism. See the comments here.
Surely it’s time that we, as brands (and even individuals – no need to remind us all of Stephanie Rice’s Twitter mishap where she lost her Jaguar sponsorship), learn that as we join online conversations we are involving ourselves in a very transparent and dynamic environment. We must think logically and strategically and above anything else, we must use some common sense.