September 9th 2014 was not a shining day for DiGiorno and it all started with one tweet, only 3 words and a hashtag. It became the biggest mistake in their social media history. DiGiorno tweeted “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” and with this post they offended thousands of twitter users, women, and domestic abuse survivors because they hadn’t researched the hashtag they were using. #WhyIStayed was a powerful twitter trend in response to the February 2014 Ray Rice assault on his wife, Janay Rice. Once the hate started spilling in from upset twitter users, DiGiorno tweeted an indirect and insincere explanation. They also went to a personal level by replying to each individual with more sincere apologies. DiGiorno didn’t do much damage control and chose to go ghost on twitter for three months then returned as nothing happened.
This hashtag was started when Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, committed a brutal domestic violence act against his then fiancé, Janay Palmer, knocking her unconscious and dragged her limp body to the elevator. Once TMZ released footage from the Revel Casino people were stunned by what they saw. Rice’s aggravated assault charge got dropped to 12 months of anger management, upon completion his recorded was cleared. #WhyIStayed surfaced the day following the assault when Palmer married Rice. This baffling display of loved prompted female twitter users to publicize their reasons why they had stayed in an abusive relationship to raise awareness to those who may still be in one.
Immediately after DiGiorno realized what had just happened, they took down the original tweet and started apologizing. The apology tweet said, “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.” Although, many people who saw the original tweet did not accept the apology, claiming DiGiorno should have done research before posting. A few others said they did understand and accepted DiGiorno’s apology.
DiGiorno using the hashtag #WhyIStayed was a careless mistake that could have easily been avoided. Our advice for the successful pizza company is to “think before you speak”. The next time they are in the midst of an advertising campaign meeting they should take a more thorough look at what their brand message is conveying. A simple Google search or looking into their intended hashtag before posting will prevent future controversies from happening.
The aftermath of #WhyIStayed was handled with a simple solution, an apology tweet and then personal apologies to twitter users who had complained about the incident. Then DiGiorno went quiet on their social media platforms for three months. By deciding to be quiet on social media to let the heat of the incident pass, DiGiorno allowed their competitors to grow as they stalled out. However, after these months passed they came back and started off being calm and eventually returning to their edginess of tweets that they have held since before the incident. We would advise the social media manager to research hashtag meanings before tweeting.
By: Brandon Burke, Bethany Crocker, Vidal Rosa, Megan Russell