In their never-ending jockeying for customers' attention on social media, some companies make terrible mistakes in judgment. Here's a roundup (in no particular order) of some of the worst fails brands committed over the past year.
1. Victorian Taxi Association's hashtag horror.
In November, Australia's Victorian Taxi Association launched its #YourTaxis campaign to get customers' feedback about its service. The response wasn't exactly what the group was expecting, though. The hashtag quickly became a repository for stories about drivers committing horrible violent and sexually abusive acts against riders.
2. IHOP serves up sexist tweets.
IHOP, the ostensibly wholesome chain also known as International House of Pancakes, showed the Twittersphere how immature, sexist jokes kids used to make in gym class do not translate into good social media strategy. Here are the company's one-liners, which were immediately met with widespread opprobrium:
3. Bic alienates women.
Bic, which makes everything from those colorful disposable lighters to pens and office supplies, also made an ill-conceived attempt to encourage professional women during South Africa's Women's Day holiday by suggesting in a Twitter ad that they should "act like a lady" and "think like a man."
what fresh hell is this pic.twitter.com/KctXjvWAHp-; Caroline CriadoPerez (@CCriadoPerez) August 11, 2015
4. Seattle Seahawks compare football to the civil rights movement.
In January, the NFL's Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers to earn a trip to their second consecutive Super Bowl. The day after that win happened to be Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so inexplicably the Seahawks decided to compare their struggle for a championship to the struggle for equal rights that African-Americans have gone through.
5. "Go to hell, @SeaWorld."
SeaWorld, the aquatic-themed amusement park, has been plagued with allegations of animal rights abuses. In an effort to get ahead of a tell-all book by a former killer whale trainer, SeaWorld launched the #AskSeaWorld campaign--to disastrous effect. Here's just one example of the many angry responses to SeaWorld's call for questions:
6. BlackBerry employees don't use their own company's products.
If you can't beat the competition, make sure your employees don't use their products in front of your customers. Two years ago, BlackBerry suffered a public embarrassment when its celebrity endorser, singer Alicia Keys, sent out a tweet from an Apple iPhone. Apparently the company failed to learn its lesson, however. In January the central BlackBerry account took to Twitter to urge its loyal users to keep up the BlackBerry conversation on the social platform. Once again, it turned out the tweet had been sent from an iPhone.
7. Starbucks fails to solve race relations with a hashtag.
Starbucks president Howard Schultz wanted his company to drive the discussion of race relations in the aftermath of two high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers last spring. Schultz dreamed up a utopia where the coffee giant's #RaceTogether campaign would spur healthy discussions among customers and employees at Starbucks locations and on Twitter. The result? According to an analysis, the majority of social media posts about #RaceTogether were negative, with a third of them that followed the campaign's announcement categorized as "hate."
The arrival of Starbucks is typically a key indicator of gentrification in low-income communities. But, #RaceTogether-; dae (@Duanecia) March 17, 2015