Timeliness is a huge part of running a social media account for a brand. That includes looking at the calendar, seeing if the day is a day of note, and considering whether to hit the “tweet” button on a message commemorating the occasion. Of course, it takes a little more finesse than that, which SpaghettiOs’ social media team discovered firsthand over the weekend. In the early morning hours of Saturday, Pearl Harbor Day, the brand tweeted, “Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us” and included this image: The visual of the brand’s smiling, lip-licking mascot memorializing the Pearl Harbor attack just didn’t sit very well with a lot of the people who saw the tweet. After all, the military-base attack on Dec. 7, 1941 killed 2.402 Americans and led to the United States’ entering World War II. Here’s one reaction, from Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke:
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) December 7, 2013
Comedian Patton Oswalt was one of the key critics of the brand, tweeting jokes such as this one:
Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 7, 2013
SpaghettiOs deleted the tweet around midday Saturday, offering this apology tweet:
We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.
— SpaghettiOs (@SpaghettiOs) December 7, 2013
A spokesman for Campbell’s Soup Co., which owns SpaghettiOs, told USA Today that the SpaghettiOs account is run internally, not through an agency.
A former director of digital marketing and social media for Campbell’s, Adam Kmiec, tweeted that “the social media community” is too quick to jump on brands that make mistakes:
I find it fascinating and sad how the social media community turns on their own, when a brand makes a mistake. Don’t throw stones…
— Adam Kmiec (@adamkmiec) December 7, 2013
On his Mr. Media Training blog, Brad Phillips wrote that SpaghettiOs should have learned from multiple examples of brands’ weighing in on tragedies and somber historical events—and almost always courting trouble in doing so. He said brands should consider whether to say anything at all. “Few brands are expected to comment on Pearl Harbor Day,” Phillips wrote. If you do feel compelled to say something? Keep it simple. Make it completely about the event, and keep your mascot out of it. (Image via)