One More Reason Why Brands Need to Stop Cringeworthy Twitter Campaigns



Amid months of extreme tension between American minorities and police, CNN decided to stage a Twitter campaign called #AskACop on Tuesday night—and it went as terribly as you think it did.

The news outlet thought #AskACop would be used by viewers tweeting questions to officers for the “Cops Under Fire,” segment hosted by Don Lemon. An overwhelming amount of people used the hashtag to heavily criticize police behavior.

“What could possibly go wrong” we imagined CNN execs asking each other. Well, lots of things went wrong. Following the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, tensions ran especially high on the social media site Tuesday night.

By 8pm, #AskACop became the top trending hashtag on Twitter, and it continued to be Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the responses elicited included:





What may be more surprising is that well-known brands have angered people time and time again by engaging in brutal social media campaigns. Even the most well known brands seem to perpetuate this cringe-worthy cycle, despite paying employees large salaries to help maintain favourable brand awareness.

Several other noteworthy social media gaffes backfired over the past few years. Here’s a few of our favourites.

Given that McDonalds became a large target of public scorn even before the days of Internet pile-ons, high-level executives must have been aware that any social media campaign had the potential for backfire. Unfortunately, when the company launched the #McDStories hashtag, it didn’t go smoothly.

People ended up telling 140-character stories about their worst experiences with the fast food joint. One can only imagine the depth and quantity of such tales.

Meanwhile, during the Arab Spring, Kenneth Cole sent out a head-scratching tweet to promote its high-end fashion. The brand’s account tweeted “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new Spring Collection is now available…”. Needless to say, people didn’t take too kindly to that.

Finally, on July 5, 2011, a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of first degree murder of the death of her two-year-old child, inciting public outrage through the #notguilty hashtag. It was a completely nauseating case that should have never been used in a brand’s attempt at clever humour.

A month later Entenmann’s, the large company that manufactures baked goods, Tweeted “Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!”. People freaked out, as they should have, and the company tried to play it off as though they were unaware of the trending hashtag.

So just how important are modern social media teams? Either brands should pay big bucks to find and hire professional teams with high amounts of common sense, or like Spirit Airlines, maybe they should just employ a robot to handle the account!