#Epicfail – the biggest PR blunders brands have made on social media

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Ed Gould

Ed Gould

Creative director

Published Thursday 1st October 2015

Press and public relations + Media relations + Social media and digital marketing + Social media management + Social strategy

As the developers of video game Call of Duty come under fire this week for live tweeting a fake terror attack in Singapore Carswell Gould reveals its top five Twitter blunders from brands across the world:


The coffee giant erected a giant screen at the Natural History Museum in 2012 displaying live tweets hash tagged with its #spreadthecheer Christmas campaign. Unfortunately it was bad timing for such a public display of tweets, with its tax scandal still causing outrage across the UK. Instead of displaying messages of Christmas cheer the screen was ambushed with messages from angry consumers demanding the company pays its tax.

Lesson learned: Timing is everything.


The homeware store came under fire after those behind its UK Twitter handle hijacked popular hashtags to promote its products. It even used political issues such as #Iran and #Mousavi in a bid to get more viewers for its tweets.

Lesson learned: Stick to relevant hashtags.


The confectionery firm got into hot water when it reacted to negative comments from protestors on its Facebook page by deleting them. Rather than engaging with users about their issues with the company using palm oil, it censored the posts and caused even bigger outrage.

Lesson learned: Engage with negative comments rather than deleting them.

US Airways

The company faced an embarrassing time in 2014 when one of its employees accidentally tweeted a graphic sexual image in response to a customer complaint on Twitter. The image had been sent in a link to the company from another Twitter user but the company inadvertently included the link in a response to the complaint. It took the company over an hour to remove the image.

Lesson learned: Be careful what you copy and paste.


The automotive firm was forced to apologise after the following tweet was sent from its account: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.”

While it’s unclear if the message was sent on purpose or if it was a case of someone accidentally tweeting from the corporate account thinking it was their own profile, the damage was done and the incident remains in the social media fail hall of fame.

Lesson learned: Be careful who has access to your profile and make sure you’re posting from the right account.

This goes to show that even the biggest businesses don’t always get it right on social media. If you’d like to know more about how social media can help your business (rather than hinder it) get in touch today. 

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