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Tweeting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The Good, the Bad and the Why?!

Brands are constantly searching for ways to insert themselves into trending topics, big events and national holidays on social media. While it can be a great way to get some extra impressions and increase engagement, jumping on trends for historical, political and polarizing topics can potentially put your brand at risk for some serious backlash.  This is where your brand needs to think about Right-Time Marketing, instead of Real-Time Marketing. (“Right-time” meaning the right post at the right time to the right people, and always right for YOUR brand. To learn more about this, check out this blog post.)

With yesterday being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we saw some brands do #MLKDay right, some do it wrong, and others not do anything at all (which, in this case, we see as a good thing). Here’s a roundup of the Good, the Bad, and the Why?!

The Good

crayola

Yes, yes, yes. Smart execution that strongly ties to the brand, without pushing sales or products.  It’s also great to see Crayola rebound after their scary security mishap that lead to inappropriate posts on their channels.

2
Simple and cute. And really, does anything convey a message of love better than dogs? Nope. Well done, PetSmart.
3
Since (RED) is a charity that’s all about helping people, this tweet was a good choice and a natural fit for their tone on social media. It’s genuine and not self-promoting.

The Bad

4
Ok, we know the Seahawks were probably still riding the high from the crazy comeback win that’s sending them to the Super Bowl, but comparing what MLK did to a football game is NEVER a good idea. (It’s worth noting that the Seahawks eventually realized their blunder. They deleted the tweet and issued an apology.)

5
MLK Day is not the time to be pushing your #ThatsABuick campaign, nor to tag it onto another topic like #NAIAS. Not to mention, MLK Day isn’t the occasion where you wish someone a “Happy MLK Day.” It’s meant to be introspective and reflective, so poor execution all around.

The Why???

(This list contains brands that weren’t necessarily good or bad, but really had no reason to be putting themselves into the conversation.)
6
Steak + Celebrated Civil Rights Activist = Awkward tweet.
7
Was this necessary? Nope.
8
Nice quote, but what does Keds have to do with this? Maybe their shoes are durable? Whatever the reasoning for tweeting this was, it ended up feeling out of place and somewhat forced.

The Verdict

What lessons can be learned from these examples? Sometimes, not tweeting is the best thing you can do for your brand. While some brands may have a creative & authentic way to insert themselves, others are better off steering clear. If you’re tweeting about a holiday just to be in the conversation, but have nothing relevant to say, you’re doing more harm than good. Thinking about Right-Time Marketing when deciding whether or not to participate can work wonders for your brand and engagement.

Oh, and don’t forget to always think before you tweet, especially on days commemorating a civil rights pioneer. #cmgrPSA

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5 Comments
  • deanshaw
    Posted at 08:56h, 21 January

    I don’t see much difference between White Castle, Steak-umm, Ked’s, PetSmart and Crayola. They are all businesses that have nothing to do with MLK and each post was innocuous, unnecessary, but at the end of the day inoffensive. Now the Seahawks and especially Buick clearly messed up. In all cases, its probably best for brands to stay away from events and stories like this. All you do is add noise and risk messing up. I suspect brands won’t be able to help themselves though.

  • deanshaw
    Posted at 08:56h, 21 January

    I don’t see much difference between White Castle, Steak-umm, Ked’s, PetSmart and Crayola. They are all businesses that have nothing to do with MLK and each post was innocuous, unnecessary, but at the end of the day inoffensive. Now the Seahawks and especially Buick clearly messed up. In all cases, its probably best for brands to stay away from events and stories like this. All you do is add noise and risk messing up. I suspect brands won’t be able to help themselves though.

  • deanshaw
    Posted at 08:56h, 21 January

    I don’t see much difference between White Castle, Steak-umm, Ked’s, PetSmart and Crayola. They are all businesses that have nothing to do with MLK and each post was innocuous, unnecessary, but at the end of the day inoffensive. Now the Seahawks and especially Buick clearly messed up. In all cases, its probably best for brands to stay away from events and stories like this. All you do is add noise and risk messing up. I suspect brands won’t be able to help themselves though.

  • Ben wynkoop
    Posted at 14:19h, 21 January

    It’s an obvious blunder to compare football to the civil rights movement. However From a different perspective, I don’t see anything out of place with irrelevant companies such as White Castle and Steak-umm making an MLK post. A simple explanation could be that Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes reflect an ethos that all companies, organizations and government agencies should follow.

  • Alice Fuller
    Posted at 20:21h, 21 January

    They had no reason you say. I beg to differ.

    The Why? Allow me to answer…Do black, brown, and people of all color, races, and creeds enjoy Steakumm, White Castle, and Keds? Sure they do! So why not as a corporation acknowledge the holiday. Google did! So is it “awkward” for the #1 search engine in the world to honor the day with a new Martin Luther King Jr. themed logo?

    Also from a business perspective, these corporations know and understand that based of “stats and figures” the population of people of color in this country will soon outnumber whites. Knowing this, why not APPEAR to care about what soon the majority of the population just may care about. It doesn’t “hurt” the brand. Technically, it could be a genuine effort to be more inclusive or code word “diverse.”

    I do agree with you that some brands shouldn’t say anything if they don’t really know how, especially when it comes to things concerning race, politics, and religion. But merely saying or tweeting something “nice” about MLK Jr. as a company is as similar to saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hannukah”. It’s a nice gesture. It doesn’t hurt their brand.

    Yes, if there had been a sales pitch or some discount attached to the tweet, indeed that would be wrong at this time in America, probably anytime in the future too.

    And speaking of which, asking is it NECESSARY for a company to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday could get you in trouble with some. Why? Because it may read as offensive to some who are direct beneficiaries of his work and life sacrifice. It’s a matter of perspective.

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