DiGiorno’s Uh-Oh

Assignment: Find an example of how a company or an individual has had their reputation put at risk by social media activity. This should NOT be an example covered in the video lecture or readings. Explore how the company or individual responded and discuss what action you would have taken.

THE BACKGROUND

In September of 2014, NFL player Ray Rice was facing public scrutiny for abusing his wife Janay. For those of you that didn’t see the incident on the news, YouTube or SportsCenter, Ray hit his wife knocking her out cold in an elevator, which he later dragged her out of. I’m not getting into the politics of what she may have said or done prior, their relationship history, or anything of that nature – the assault was shocking and definitely not a laughing matter.

To raise awareness about domestic violence and the seriousness of the matter surrounding the Rice’s, a Twitter hashtag, actually hashtags, were created. Many women, including celebrities, opened up about their personal experiences of being victimized by a significant other. Women shared their reasonings for both staying in the relationship (#whyistayed) and/or leaving (#whyileft).

THE UH-OH

DiGiorno pizza is apparently known for making snarky, satirical comments on Twitter, and frequently utilizes hashtags, especially those that are trending. However, DiGiorno’s cold, comedic heart got burned when they didn’t do their homework and insensitively misused the hashtag #whyistayed.  

DiGiorno eagerly used the trending hashtag without doing the miniscule amount of research necessary to determine the actual message behind the #. In their consistently satirical tone they tweeted the following:

Digiorno #Whyistayed

Ready, set…BACK PEDAL. Almost instantaneously DiGiorno realized the PR nightmare they had created removed the Tweet and replaced it with an apology.

DiGiorno - #Whyistayed response

But they didn’t stop there, and nor should they have. DiGiorno responded and apologized to individual Twitter users’ tweets as well, and while the apologies got somewhat monotonous and lost their genuity (in my opinion), they didn’t stop apologizing….how could they?

Digiorno #whyistayed replies to individuals

As stated in this Washington Post article, “brands are people too – and sometimes people make idiots of themselves.” The article also appropriately groups DiGiorno with some other idiot brands, guilt of making some social media mistakes. But hey, we’re human..right? Apologies can go a long way in relationships, in particular face-to-face; however, I don’t know that they hold the same value in 140 characters or less, particularly from a corporate brand with deep pockets. Money talks.

DiGiorno may not have done their research before tweeting, but it’s possible they learned from other social media mistakes such as the Red Cross and Dogfish Head  #gettngslizzered incident. Red Cross was fortunate to have Dogfish Head step in as an ally, but DiGiorno was responsible for their own damage control and wiping the pizza of their embarrassed faces. DiGiorno’s efforts to repair the damage have been honorable and were in fact rather timely, given October (the following month) was domestic violence awareness month.

To successfully recover, DiGiorno had to put their money where their mouth was and turn apologies into dollar signs.

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6 thoughts on “DiGiorno’s Uh-Oh

  1. This was an unfortunate event for DiGornio. So many women were using this #WhyIStayed or #WhyILeft as an empowerment movement, and it was turned into a joke with DiGiorno’s lack of research. It could have been prevented if their SM team simply clicked on the hashtag to understand its context.

    When things like this happen, I don’t necessarily feel bad for the brands/businesses. Maybe that’s a little heartless, but it’s so easy to find information on the internet and within the platforms we’re using. Those running these accounts need to stop treating social media as an afterthought. It just makes the employees look negligent and the brand seem insensitive. And it’s a shame that it takes something like this to properly train employees.

    I’m pleased to hear that DiGornio did step up, admitted to the tweet, and apologized profusely to their offended audience. I think that made a world of difference to repair the damage caused – it made them trustworthy again.

    • I completely agree with you Tiffani – While DiGiorno’s Tweet didn’t dissolve the movement by any means, it did take away form the importance of the hashtag, at least for a little while. Who knows though, maybe it brought the movement to light for someone that didn’t hear about it until DiGiorno made their uh-oh. I would say you are being very kind by calling it an unfortunate event – in my opinion, it was incredibly stupid given how easy it would have been to take a few seconds prior to investigate the meaning of the hashtag.
      I agree I do not feel bad for the brand whatsoever. Ironically, I feel a little bad for the individual who Tweeted it and very well may have lost their job. We are all humans running these social media accounts and it’s possible to make mistakes; but then again, this was a very easy one to do his or her do-dilligence prior to Tweeting.
      I was also glad they apologized and replied to individuals as well. Prior to doing my research for this blog, I didn’t think they put their “money where their mouth” was, which I think would have been poor etiquette form a corporate company with deep pockets, but they did in fact do so, and I’m glad to see they did.

  2. Kaitlin, wonderful post of an awful example!! The DiGiorno example was a great example of what could happen if a company simply did a little research or due diligence before posting. If there is a silver lining to this example – in the fact that DiGiorno listened to its costumers/ consumers, showed empathy and apologize, and responded quickly. I’m not familiar with DiGiorno’s previous snarky posts, do you have examples of what the company has said in the past?

    One thing I think the company could have done was make a donation to domestic violence organization, or they could set up a help feed or provide food local domestic violence shelters.

    What I struggle with is what impact did this event have? I don’t support it, or condone their comment, but what impact did this actually have on DiGiorno? Did sales decrease? Did their stock price drop? I only ask because I’m trying to show how having a good social media strategy / response is critical and I’d like to be able to show the damage negative social media messaging can have.

    In doing my own research, I did find that Digiorno stock (Nestle) did drop 10 points the same month this issue occurred. Can this correlated to negative press and public backlash? I for one believe so…

  3. Wow, thank you for bringing this instance to my attention! I had not heard about it prior to now. I think that it just shows the value of researching anything you post to social media, but not only for the social media manager but your employees as well. I know this past week, I had my Human Resources department start a trending hashtag for my company with these students for a high school shadowing program they were doing with our employees. Not that this can compare, but with one wrong hashtag, it could put the whole company in a bad light. Something as open ended as #WhyIStayed could be used prior to the awareness hashtag being used. Therefore, make sure any social media decisions are cleared with the Marketing Department to ensure that they are on brand. Whoever was posting this should have made sure that any converstaion they were joining was approved by the director of marketing.

    • Thank you for your comment Sami. I would imagine it is difficult to have all conversations cleared with a superior prior to engaging. I would agree prior research, even if it’s brief, is most certainly valuable. Kudos to you for taking on a hashtag campaign. Best of luck! My apologies for the late reply. I responded to comments after noon on Saturday and hadn’t seen this posted afterward until now.

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