PR Snafus from the Week that Was — and Social Media’s Response to Them

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There’s a social media axiom heavily utilized – some would say over utilized – by those seeking to juxtapose gaffes alongside even bigger gaffes. That term? “Hold my beer.” To say it was used a lot this week might be an understatement. In this week’s editions of Weekly Reads, we take a look at how social media responded to some of the biggest PR snafus from the week that was. 

USA Today: Airlines take to Twitter to exploit United’s misfortune

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has put his foot in his mouth several times in the wake of a video-taped incident that saw a United passenger dragged off a flight. Munoz may also now regret the time he described his competitors in the Persian Gulf as “not real airlines.” At the very least, it seems Emirates and Royal Jordanian airlines haven’t forgotten about that old comment, as both took to Twitter this week to reexamine it alongside some of United’s recent blunders.

NPR: Unforeseen Achilles heel of clever Burger King marketing ploy

Burger King produced an ad in which its spokesperson tells the camera, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The ad was meant to activate Google Home devices, which would then in turn read off a description of the Whopper burger from Wikipedia. It proved to be a very clever and effective ploy — until someone changed the ingredients in the Whopper on Wikipedia to “chocolate candy, toenail clippings, cyanide, rat and a medium-sized child.”

Huffington Post: Public perception of Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner surprisingly mixed

Pepsi quickly pulled and apologized for an ad featuring Kendall Jenner after critics widely scorned the company for seeming to purport that the offering of a soft drink might quell tensions between police officers and Black Lives Matter protesters. But interestingly enough, an online poll found that 44 percent of those surveyed had a more favorable view of Pepsi after viewing the ad.

Washington Post: News about ‘white is purity’ campaign from Nivea gets buried

In the ad campaign you may have missed amidst the backlash about the three larger companies just mentioned, Nivea tossed up a post on its Middle Eastern Facebook page as part of a deodorant campaign that suggested “White is Purity.” Perhaps as ill-fated as the campaign itself, the company took to social media with the quasi-justification that the Facebook post was somehow less offensive because it was intended for a Middle Eastern audience.

CBS News: Anti-Defamation League seizes opportunity presented by Sean Spicer

Perhaps the most widely publicized gaffe of the week came from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In an attempt to criticize Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, Spicer claimed “not even Hitler used chemical weapons” — a claim that flew in the face of the fact that Hitler used gas chambers during the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League used the misstep as an avenue to promote its Holocaust education classes, making a public offer to discount its classes if Spicer should want to enroll.

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