Did The Onion tarnish its brand with C-word tweet?

Likely not, say experts. But it put the satirical news outlet in a Catch-22 unusual to most PR crises.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

The Onion is finding out and, believe it or not, the incident offers a lesson for brands—beyond not insulting a child or using crass language.

With minutes left in Sunday’s Oscars telecast, The Onion sent a tweet in which it referred to nine-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis as a very bad word, otherwise known as the C-word. Almost immediately, negative social media sentiment around the brand spiked. According to data provided by NetBase, 64 percent of mentions about The Onion were negative after the tweet, compared with just 29 percent before it insulted the young actress.

You don’t need stats to understand that people were angry. Even though the tweet was deleted, a storm of criticism engulfed The Onion. It seemed that an apology was in order to squelch the firestorm.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.