Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 5.15.13 PM

Ever since Oreo’s social media team won major props for the ‘You can dunk in the dark’ tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, brands have been looking for a current event wave to ride. Success stories (Chobani, Pantene) exist, but so do disastrous ones such as this week’s fiasco from DiGiorno. The pizza company piggybacked on #WhyIStayed, a hashtag meant to give a voice to domestic abuse survivors, with a joke implying that pizza was the reason why one victim stayed. A few other brands used the anniversary of the September 11 attacks as an opportunity to express grief (and keep the brand top of mind). Even though the messages about 9/11 were not offensive, many didn’t take well to use of the tragedy as a marketing device.

On the latest episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’ John Oliver gave brands a valuable social media lesson: it’s ok to be silent, or decline to participate in a trend. Oliver likened Twitter to a cocktail party, where strangers and friends meet and chat. Corporations are not invited, and are even more unwelcome when they take someone’s mention of a dying grandmother as an invitation to pitch. A helpful hint from Oliver: Nobody will be offended that a brand didn’t offer condolences to the victims of a tragedy.

For brands looking for Twitter followers, Oliver offered to retweet any brand that tweeted the following:


Last Week Tonight has 158,000 followers. Therefore, a retweet could be more effective than participating in any trending hashtag. See full video here.

L2 emails keep you up to date on how brands are leveraging digital to grow their businesses.
Join Our EMail List