Damage Control: DiGiorno Pizza Case Study

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DiGiorno Pizza is a subsidiary of Nestle that sells frozen pizzas in Canada and all around the US. The company is popular both online – with over 82,000 Twitter followers – and in real life, manufacturing over 250,000 pizzas every day to meet consumers’ demands.

A recent mistake by the company’s Twitter team had the potential to cause great damage to the brand name, but their handling of the incident helped to defuse the situation.

The Mistake

A video of a popular NFL player named Ray Rice physically abusing his then-fiancée (now wife) went viral over the internet.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook were flooded with comments and opinions of people about the story and the NFL’s handling of it. Followers on Twitter, after hearing this news, began sharing their emotional stories related to abusive relationships, using #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft hashtags.

Then DiGiorno’s Twitter team tweeted “#WhyIStayed you had Pizza”, without knowing what the hashtag was about. The tweet was meant to be funny and gain even more followers, publicity, and re-tweets, as jumping on trending topics in social media can be an effective marketing strategy.

Instead, it created havoc and many followers immediately started re-tweeting and responding with negative comments, as they felt the brand was making fun of a serious topic. Although the tweet was quickly deleted within a few minutes, outraged Twitter users took screenshots and called it an “insult” to all those who have experienced domestic violence.

The Solution

DiGiorno tried to handle the situation by immediately apologising to their Twitter followers. The company posted a tweet saying “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting”.

However, followers were still outraged. The company’s twitter team then released a statement about the incident saying the tweet was a mistake and as soon as they realised what had happened, they deleted it. DiGiorno tweeted “Our community manager and the entire DiGiorno team is truly sorry” and began individually addressing and apologising to all those who re-tweeted and commented.

While some brands think the best option is to defend or ignore a problem, owning up to their mistake was the best thing DiGiorno could have done. Usually, if a company were to make such a mistake, they would simply send out a general apology. DiGiorno illustrated a different approach to crisis communication and apologised to each and every person.

They proved that the more authentic you are on social media, the more effective you will be. Followers appreciated the kind gesture of the company and the damage was minimised.

What you can take away from this case study is that firstly, you should always check what a trending topic is about before jumping on board. And secondly, should you make a mistake, you need to acknowledge it and apologise for it. Show your audience respect, and they’ll return the favour.

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