Sunday, April 17, 2011

When a Duck Tweets and Other Birdbrain Social Media Gaffes

Last month, comedian Gilbert Gottfried was relieved of his 11-year job as the voice of the Aflac spokes-duck, for tweeting a series of offensive jokes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

(While the jokes were truly in bad taste, the fact that 75% of Aflac’s business comes from Japan probably didn’t help Gottfried’s situation.)

He quickly offered an apology, but the damage had already been done. And while the duck had lost its voice, Aflac had smartly turned a major social media gaffe into a huge opportunity: it invited the public to audition for the role. Thousands have tried out so far and the press coverage has been a boon for the company. Also, Aflac got behind the Red Cross in Japan and created a Facebook page to raise funds for it that currently has about 249,000 “likes.”

The company’s quick response to Gottfried’s insensitivity was brilliant. Others have not been so smart:

  1. Jordan Spriggs, a freshman defensive back for the Auburn Tigers sent out this tweet: “man who is good at writing papers?????????????? I pay.” Obviously, the young man is as unknowledgeable about tweeting as he is writing school papers. 
  2. Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest and a number of other semi-celebs threatened to stop tweeting until the AIDs charity, Keep a Child Alive raised $1 million. The thought was nice. But seriously: who in his or her right mind could feel that a life deprived of Kardashian tweets is a life not worth living? 
  3. In Syracuse, NY, a customer of the Price Chopper supermarket chain tweeted a complaint about the local store. A customer service person at Price Chopper responded by complaining to the complainer’s boss. Somehow this all ended up going viral.
These are just a few examples of the dangers of social media when it’s not used thoughtfully. There must be many, many more. I invite you to share any you’ve heard.


1 comment:

  1. Great to see a client turn lemons into lemonade.

    For the record, I'm hoping the pseudo-celebs raise $999,999.99.