Friday, February 12, 2016

13068: Red Lobster Red-Faced…?

Inc. published a peculiar perspective titled, “Béyoncé Hands Red Lobster the Marketing Opportunity of a Lifetime”—with subhead copy that read, “And then Red Lobster fumbles it. What we can learn about the importance of having a diverse work force from this social media fail.” The author, Amy Vernon, sports a “social media consultant” handle, which always warrants eye-rolling suspicion. Vernon opines that Red Lobster missed a chance to shine via social media when Béyoncé’s Super Bowl performance included song lyrics referencing the restaurant chain. Why, Red Lobster should have jumped on the opportunity like Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet during a power outage or Arby’s Grammys tweet about Pharrell Williams’ hat. The social media consultant pushed the argument further, declaring Red Lobster’s flop was rooted in its social media team’s lack of diversity. Now, MultiCultClassics can appreciate a decent speech on the imperative for inclusive workforces; however, Vernon seems to have fumbled herself in this scenario. Why do social media wonks believe real-time commentary is such a big deal? There are far more instances of advertisers pulling the tweet trigger too quickly—with disastrous results—versus typing Twitter treasures. It’s also silly to think Red Lobster could excel in social media when its traditional advertising is consistently lame. (Besides, the seafood seller saw sales spike from Béyoncé’s song after all.) But to declare the alleged blunder underscores the need for diversity is a stretch. Indeed, Vernon’s soapbox rant only garnered two comments—and the second comment was Vernon’s thank-you reply to the first comment. The revolution will not be televised. Or tweeted.


Anonymous said...

I was watching this go down live on Twitter. There were hundreds and hundreds of people waiting for Red Lobster to reply with something, anything, in response. Then it became kind of a game to see just how long it would take them. The suspense was building and there was definitely a wave starting.

About a dozen hours later, Red Lobster released a sort of "meh" "Cheddar "Bey" Biscuits" response. That ship had already sailed hours prior though.

So yes, the brand did have a hot moment in their hands there and a wide opening to tie themselves into a conversation being had by hundreds of thousands of black fans/audiences/consumers at a specific point and time.

But asking a brand to A) have someone on tap on Super Bowl Sunday with B) knowledge of how Black Twitter works and C) the permission to jump right into the conversation and D) the balls to do it is a bit much in an industry where, if we're being really optimistic, maybe 1 out of 100 creative positions is black.

Could Red Lobster have found a way to invite hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Black Twitter account holders into their restaurants post-Super Bowl? Yes, but only if A+B+C+D miraculously came together, so.... no.

Amy Vernon said...

Hi there - First, you're right to be skeptical of those who sport a "social media consultant" handle. My editors put it there after I failed to give them a better, short descriptor and frankly I got lazy and never had them change it. Though every time I see it, I cringe and remind myself I need to change it. So, thanks for the kick in the butt to get that changed. (I have to request it be changed; contributors don't have editing ability on our bios.)

Second, this was not in reference to the Super Bowl. My article did point out that this was the day *before* the Super Bowl, the day the song dropped. And your first commenter really points out the specific issue I was trying to highlight in my post, that the industry has a major diversity problem. This incident just highlighted that, and that was the point of my piece.

The fact that was not obvious perhaps shows a failing on my end. But it is why I included the Nielsen stats on demographics and purchasing power in the black community in the United States and why I included the links to Blavity, Very Smart Brothas, and Awesomely Luvvie, as well as talking to Nina Perez.

Anyway, thank you for reading, and for the nudge to get change my bio, finally.