You might think that going viral is a walk in the park. However, there are many businesses that have gone viral on social media for all the wrong reasons. The instant communication and easy access that social media creates is a double-edged sword and the following businesses were put on blast for a number of different reasons:
In 2009, Dominoes made headlines when a video of two of their employees circulated. The employees were preparing Dominoes orders and prepping food for delivery, but were deliberately doing it in an unsanitary manner such as rubbing their snot on the sandwiches to putting the cheese up their nose before they put it on the pizzas. Dominoes came under a lot of fire for this. In response, Dominoes fired those employees and also started a complete upheaval of the brand’s image, their recipes, and their strategy.
In 2017, Uber made headlines when Donald Trump first announced an immigration ban, specifically targeting Muslim citizens from Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and more by revoking their visas. Since many taxi drivers are foreign immigrants, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a strike for all rides from the JFK airport. At the same time, Uber announced that their surge prices were off for that particular route. This move was viewed as a move meant to break the strike and in solidarity with Trump’s ban. In protest, Uber users started the #DeleteUber movement. Lyft, Uber’s direct competitor had more app downloads than Uber in the US the very next day.
3. United Airlines
Already reeling from two different negative viral incidents, United Airlines went viral for the third time in 2017 when a video of a passenger being forcefully dragged off a flight was shared on Twitter. This incident resulted in the passenger suffering a concussion, getting two broken teeth and breaking their nose. All this occurred despite the fact that the seat rightfully belonged to the passenger. United Airlines ended up experiencing a 4% drop in their stock value as well a decrease of $1 billion in their market value.
In 2017, Black Lives Matter movement protests were being held in full force highlighting incidents of police brutality and killings against people of color and minorities. Many businesses showcased their support for the movement and Pepsi jumped on the bandwagon with their ad. The ad showed a Black Lives Matter protest that was upbeat, positive and cheerful to the point that Kendall Jenner skips her photo shoot to join it. She offers the policeman a Pepsi and when he accepts, they celebrate. The ad was viewed as making a mockery of Black Lives Matter protests. It didn’t help the fact that Jenner’s pose when offering the policeman a Pepsi loosely mimicked the pose of a Black Lives Matter activist who was in handcuffs. While Pepsi did make an apology, Jenner and the brand, both, came under fire for the tone-deaf nature of the ad that could easily have been avoided.
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