Starbucks’ #SpreadtheCheer Twitter campaign hijacked

The coffee chain is the latest brand to see its social media efforts overrun by opponents in an exceptional case in which the tweets were displayed for an offline audience.


Starbucks is the latest organization to see its Twitter efforts hijacked, except this instance was exception because it was writ large for an off-line audience to see.

The Telegraph explains:

“The coffee firm displayed Twitter messages tagged with #spreadthecheer on a big screen at the Natural History Museum [in London], where Starbucks is sponsoring the ice rink. Unfortunately, the tweets were not checked before being displayed on the screen.

“One tweet called Starbucks ‘tax dodging MoFos,’ while another opted for a more blunt message: ‘Hey Starbucks, PAY YOUR ——- TAX.'”

In recent months, Starbucks has taken flak in the U.K. for the relatively small amount of taxes it pays in that country. In response, the company has volunteered to pay millions of pounds in extra taxes over the next two years.

Starbucks is certainly not the first organization to experience a Twitter hijacking, which is when opponents, protesters, or snarky social media antagonists take over a conversation (that’s usually based on a hashtag) started by a brand.

McDonald’s, for example, launched a promoted hashtag, #McDStories, asking Twitter users to share their stories about the fast food giant. The conversation quickly veered off course, when a number of people used the hashtag to bash the company. For instance, one tweet said: “Unfortunately, the only taste I get out of McD’s is ‘despair’ RT @McDonalds When u make something w/pride, people can taste it #McDStories.” McDonald’s stopped promoting the hashtag two hours after it launched the promotion.

RELATED: 3 ways to avoid a hashtag PR debacle

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