The 8 Worst Twitter PR Fails
share this story
Some brands deftly craft their Twitter presence. Bank of America's @BofA_Help account, for example, has come to be seen as an effective forum where customers' concerns are quickly addressed and solved.
Other brands on Twitter have fallen victim to blunders and over-sharing, where the tweeter-in-charge hastily posts an intemperate or inappropriate thought for a large audience to read. After suffering a Twitter PR disaster, some brands assume responsibility for the controversy, while others blame interns, while still others point to saboteurs from outside the company.
We've compiled a list of the worst Twitter PR fails to date. Offenders include non-profits, automakers, fashion designers and more. Vote for the biggest fail, and check out the worst Twitter fails blamed on interns, as well as a slideshow of tweets that got people fired.
Did we leave out a noteworthy fail? Share your suggestions by clicking "Add a slide" below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Straits Times Curses Followers
On April 2, a staffer for Singapore-based news outlet <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/stcom" target="_hplink">The Straits Times</a> posted an offensive tweet on the company's feed. "I'd like to apologise unreservedly on behalf of our staff member. He mixed up his personal and corporate accounts," social media editor <a href="http://twitter.com/NgTzeYong" target="_hplink">Ng Tze Yong</a> tweeted, after the offending post had been deleted. [hat tip Christine L.]
Chrysler Tweeter Drops F-Bomb
In early March, a NSFW tweet found its way onto the <a href="http://twitter.com/ChryslerAutos" target="_hplink">Chrysler Autos</a> feed. "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive," read the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/09/chrysler-twitter-account-_n_833571.html" target="_hplink">errant tweet</a>, which was promptly removed. New Media Strategies, a social media agency in charge of the feed, took the fall for the ensuing controversy and fired the employee who managed Chrysler's tweets. Not long after, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/10/chrysler-twitter-f-bomb-tweet_n_834246.html" target="_hplink">AP</a> reported that Chrysler had ended its relationship with New Media Strategies.
Kenneth Cole Misuses #Cairo Hashtag
The Twitterverse recently turned against fashion designer <a href="http://twitter.com/KennethCole" target="_hplink">Kenneth Cole</a> after his official Twitter feed apparently misused the hashtag #Cairo to promote Cole's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/03/kenneth-cole-tweet-uses-c_n_818226.html?ir=Technology" target="_hplink">spring clothing line</a>. At the time, Cairo was a trending topic on Twitter due to protests in Egypt. Cole soon deleted the tweet and apologized, calling the incident "poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate."
The Red Cross Gets 'Slizzerd'
In February, the <a href="http://twitter.com/RedCross" target="_hplink">Red Cross</a>'s social media specialist <a href="http://twitter.com/riaglo" target="_hplink">Gloria Huang</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/red-cross-rogue-tweet_n_824114.html" target="_hplink">mistakenly posted a personal tweet</a> on the company's feed. "We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys," an explanatory Red Cross tweet said. <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/dogfishbeer" target="_hplink">Dogfish Head</a> retweeted the "gettingslizzerd" hashtag and encouraged customers to donate to the Red Cross.
Marc Jacobs Intern Allegedly Flips
Someone claiming to be an intern for <a href="http://twitter.com/marcjacobsintl" target="_hplink">Marc Jacobs</a> CEO Robert Duffy recently posted a rant on the company's official feed. The <em><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1370024/Marc-Jacobs-intern-brands-company-CEO-tyrant-meltdown-fashion-labels-Twitter-account.html" target="_hplink">Daily Mail</a></em> reprinted some of the tweets. "You guys and gals have no idea how difficult Robert is. I am only an intern. My last day is tomorrow. I wouldn't be tweeting this if not!" one read. "Good luck! I pray for you all. If you get the job! I'm out of here. See ya! Son't want to be ya! Roberts a tyrant! Seriously! He is tough!" read another. The tweets were deleted and the incident was blamed on a stolen password.
Bing's Japan Tweet Sparks Controversy
Shortly after the Japan tsunami, search engine <a href="http://www.twitter.com/bing" target="_hplink">Bing</a> posted a tweet that promised a dollar for every retweet from followers. Tweeters <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/bing-tries-to-help-japan-on-twitter-walks-into-a-pr-nightmare_b4455" target="_hplink">bristled</a> at the post, which was generally viewed as more of a marketing strategy than a charitable gesture, and Bing eventually backpedaled. "We apologize the tweet was negatively perceived. Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan. We have donated $100K," <a href="http://twitter.com/bing/status/46698091604226048" target="_hplink">wrote</a> Bing.
Habitat Intern Spams Hastag Feeds With Brand Promos
Back in 2009, UK furnishings retailer <a href="http://twitter.com/habitatuk" target="_hplink">Habitat</a> allegedly spammed popular hastag feeds with tweets promoting the brand. Habitat later apologized and blamed an "<a href="http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/915903/Habitat-blames-Twitter-faux-pas-intern/" target="_hplink">overenthusiastic intern</a>" for inserting "#mousavi" (a 2009 Iranian presidential candidate) and "#iphone" into their promos.
Vodafone UK's Profane Tweet
In November 2010, the following tweet appeared on <a href="http://go.telegraph.co.uk/?id=296X467&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fvodafoneuk" target="_hplink">Vodafone UK</a>'s feed: "VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo's and is going after beaver." Customers were incensed, and some assumed that the account had been hacked. Vodafone admitted, however, that an employee had written the tweet. "An individual posted an obscene remark on the Vodafone UK Twitter account [...] The individual has been suspended pending further notice," read an apology issued by the company, according to <em><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/05/vodafone-twitter-obscene-tweet" target="_hplink">The Guardian</a></em>.
Before we meet, let me offend everyone....
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Craig_Isaacs"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Craig_Isaacs">Craig Isaacs</a>:<br />Mr. Andrews of Ketchum decides to offend FedEx worldwide through Twitter...right before he meets their marketing team to demonstrate Twitter.
Sony PR Rep: "you sank my Battleship?". No, sir, you skuttled it.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/strydre"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/strydre">strydre</a>:<br />While simultaneously prosecuting a hacker for making full use of his PS3 and defending itself in a case of feature removal, Sony PR rep tweets the cryptographic key needed to (re)unlock the PS3's potential.