Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chicken Leg In Mouth

There's much to be said about Facebook, YouTube and Tweeting -- some of it's even good.

But, take for example, when it's not.

Following the big earthquake off the coast of Indonesia recently, two things happened.  People panicked and there was an assumption that a tsunami was on its way.

Someone with KFC Thailand was moved -- no pun intended -- okay the pun was intended -- to take advantage of the anticipated disaster and TWEETED this marketing message:  "Let's hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don't forget to order your favorite KFC menu."

If you saw the video and still pictures from the region shortly after the first windows cracked and buildings began to shake, you saw faces of stark terror, fleeing from the cities and villages, and I dare say, fried chicken was the farthest thing from their minds.

Public reaction was almost as fast as the first tremors and some thought as threatening.

KFC Thailand took down the post and apologized on Twitter.

The Associated Press tried to get a comment from KFC parent company, YUM Brands here in Louisville, KY.  The AP reported there was "no immediate response."

A few companies have successfully tweeted in the wake of bad news events, but some have "stepped in it" even worse than KFC Thailand.

When the violent uprising in Cairo was filling TV screens around the world, someone at designer Kenneth Cole  tweeted "Millions are in uproar . . .Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

Reaction was fast and unkind.  The company eventually issued an on-line apology, but not before the thoughtless marketing mistake made negative news around the globe.

Skittles was one of the latest to let someone in the company use their twisted sense of humor on Twitter asking "what fans would do for their last bag" of Skittles, after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while returning from the store with a freshly purchased bag of the candy.

Executives, managers, marketers, make sure your employees are "thinking" before they unleash their 140-characters on Twitter.  There needs to be a "sniff test" in most organizations. If a Tweet might stink to someone, think twice about hitting  "tweet" in the lower right hand corner of the new message box.


  1. Totally agree with the points mentioned above. We often come across insensitive PR strategies which are sure to backfire. What they forget is its social media which is all about people with real time responses. Think about them before you think about sales.

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