Company uses flight MH17 crash to sell life insurance

Malaysia Airlines

The world is still in shock after the news that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 yesterday was shot down over Ukrainian airspace. Everyone onboard was killed, including some 27 Australian citizens.

Apparently someone thought that was a great opportunity to promote life insurances. The Australian life insurance company Lisa Group bought advertisements on the Google keywords “Malaysia Airlines” only a few hours after the flight crashed.

The ad copy on Google read “Is MH17 Malaysia Airlines tragedy a sign to consider life insurance?” according to Canberra Times. The ad linked to a promotion on the company site that said:

“”What a tragedy!” read a message that has since been removed.

“Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board.

“Is it another sign to consider life insurance? #PrayForMH17.”

The company said the promotion was a mistake made by an external partner and the ad was quickly removed.

Image via Wikimedia

Twitter suspends Zlatan Ibrahimovic parody account without notice

zlatan twitter account

A parody Twitter account with about 90,000 followers was suspended yesterday without warning. The account @ZIbrahomovic has been entertaining Twitter users for almost two years with funny, but fake, quotes from Swedish football icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The account has been up front with the fact that it is not the real Zlatan, but that hasn’t stopped several Swedish news outlets from publishing it as real quotes. SVT, the Swedish public service tv channel, once published a fake quote that said:

“If FIFA does not give me the Ballon d’Or I need to talk to Santa Claus”

And Dagens Nyheter, the largest Swedish daily, once published a quote that read:

“Ronaldo will never play in PSG. They don’t produce as much hairspray in France as he needs.”

Both fake, of course. But now the parody account has been closed down without a warning, which is a bit odd, since there are plenty of other accounts that are allowed to continue as long as they state in the Twitter bio that they are not the person or company they pretend to be.

Funny Twitter chat
The closing down of “fake Zlatan” coincides with a hilarious Twitter Q&A that the real Ibrahimovic (@ibra_official) held yesterday under the Nike campaign hashtag #daretozlatan. Whether there is a connection between the two things remains to be seen. Zlatan’s PR Manager has declined that he has asked Twitter to suspend the account.

Metro in the UK has a list of some of the great chat responses from Ibra. Read them here. If you ask me, they are a little to good to be from Zlatan himself, but then again, I’m a born skeptic…

Pepsi’s Cristiano Ronaldo stunt on Facebook backfires miserably

Pepsi Sweden put up three images on its Facebook page before the last night’s World Cup qualifying game between Sweden and Portugal. The three images portrayed Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo as a voodoo doll full of needles, a doll being crushed by a Pepsi can and lying tied on a rail track.

Pepsi is a sponsor to FC Barcelona’s Leo Messi, one of Ronaldo’s main contenders for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, and apparently someone at Pepsi found it to be a brilliant idea to mock Ronaldo on Facebook. It was not.

Pepsi Facebook Cristiano Ronaldo

Pepsi Facebook Cristiano Ronaldo

Pepsi Facebook Cristiano Ronaldo disaster

The stunt has caused outrage among Portuguese football fans who have flooded Pepsi’s Swedish Facebook page with angry comments and images of their own, mocking Pepsi. Here are a few examples:

“Shame on you! Shame on you! You’re a disrespectful and unprofessional brand and you did not manage to achieve anything positive at all with that ridiculous, non-humorous and offensive campaign. It serves you right that 10.6M people shutted you up tonight, and will stop drinking Pepsi.” Link.

Pepsi Facebook

Pepsi Ronaldo

Pepsi Ronaldo Facebook

There are also many angry comments on both the Portuguese Pepsi page as well as the global page on Facebook. And that’s the trouble with a local crisis, it often spreads to a global scale. A Portuguese anti Pepsi page has also been created and it has currently attracted more than 40,000 followers. The story has already been covered in both Swedish and Portuguese media.

Pepsi has now been forced to delete the images from Facebook and to apologize:

“We would never want to put the sport or the spirit of competition in a negative light. We regret if people were offended by the posts; they were immediately taken down. We would like to extend our apologies to all concerned.”

Mocking someone else’s idol can never be a clever way to promote your brand. Pepsi has learned that the hard way.

Ryanair crash lands in Twitter chat

In a recent survey published in Britain’s premier consumer magazine, Which?, budget airline Ryanair was voted last among 100 top brands in quality of customer service. Perhaps the airline is finally starting to realize that it needs to improve its awful reputation in order to remain competitive and make an effort not to “unnecessarily piss people off”.

“Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told shareholders Friday his airline must improve how it treats passengers and handles complaints so that customers don’t feel pushed around by staff and unfairly imposed charges – and potentially take business to other airlines offering more than Ryanair’s budget model.”

But if Ryanair thought a Q&A session on Twitter with CEO Michael O’Leary would do any good, they failed miserably. The thing with inviting customers to a public debate is that you will not always get the responses you wish. We’ve seen a number of cases where critics have hijacked hashtags on Twitter because it’s a great opportunity to get exposure for your complaints. In a case with a brand that so many people hate, you would obviously expect that critics would take advantage of the situation. People who would otherwise have been silent, now feel there’s an excuse to voice their opinions.

Some examples under the hashtag #GrillMOL on Monday were:

“Were you born an arsehole or has it progressed throughout your life?”

“Is it company policy for your staff to be rude and unhelpful as possible?”

“Due to fly to Riga on Saturday but can’t go as my mum in law is losing her cancer battle. 388 quid to re-book seems unfair”

“Why no response for a refund request (sent reg. post) in over a month from seriously ill girl with special needs? @Ryanair #scum”

Here’s another great tweet from @AndyGilder, mocking Ryanair:

Twitter chat Ryainair Michael O'Leary

O’Leary’s history of nasty macho responses to everyone from customers to journalists and politicians has earned him the title “aviation’s most hated man”. The Twitter chat was no exception as he started out commenting female Twitter users’ avatars: “Nice pic. Phwoaaarr! MOL”, to which others responded:

@Ryanair how is it appropriate for an airline CEO to be a sexist pig?”, and: “People who fly Ryanair: do you also think this is an acceptable thing to tweet at a woman?”

A brand in trouble could make use of social media if their intent is genuine, if they are really there to listen and be prepared to change. If you open up a dialogue with critics just to mock them, prepare for disaster.

However, as is often the case, even bad publicity will get you attention and the @Ryanair Twitter account has gained nearly 2,000 new followers in the next two days. Perhaps this could be the start of something new, after all. But until the company changes its approach to customer service and to its own employees, I will not fly with Ryanair.

ryanair twitter

Ryanair threatens to sue Swedish newspaper

The Swedish local daily Sörmlands Nyheter (sn.se) today published an article with the headline “Ryanair pilots forced to fly free”. In the article, pilots describe how they get paid only for scheduled hours and not a minute more. If an aircraft is delayed, it means that pilots fly for free once their scheduled time has run out.

“This is extremely stressful, especially in the evenings. Everyone wants to come home and if you are going to fly the next day you have to get some rest between flights. Landing too late means you don’t get to fly the next day and then we have flown without pay ang get no income day after. This forces you to make stupid decisions and is a major safety hazard. I doubt that passengers know that the person flying them sometimes do so without pay,” says one pilot who wants to remain anonymous in fear of getting sacked by the airline.

The article describes the pilots’ dissatisfaction with current working conditions. In a follow up article, Ryanair’s Head of Communications Robin Kiely denied all claims from the pilots, claiming they were “rubbish”. In an email response to the paper, he also threatened to sue the paper if the statements from the pilots were published.

“If you publish any of these claims, we will initiate legal action against your newspaper,” Kiely wrote.

That seems like normal procedure at the airline, which just last week threatened to take legal action against British Channel 4, after a documentary about pilots’ concern over passenger safety. Apparently the PR strategy from Ryanair is to stop pilots from publishing any views on social networks (I blogged about it here in Swedish) and threaten to sue any media outlets that publish anonymous comments from pilots. That doesn’t sound like an airline that I would ever fly with.

Dole’s Facebook page goes “Bananas”

Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts about how the Facebook page of a brand easily becomes the first property to come under fire in a social media crisis. If you have the time, at least read the last concluding post of the four below.

Another example of a Facebook brand page under attack is currently unfolding before our eyes as I write this. Yesterday, a film called “Big boys gone bananas” aired on Swedish television. It is a follow up to a documentary about a case in which Dole was on trial for using a banned pesticide in Nicaragua. You can see the trailer to the film “Bananas” by Swedish film maker Fredrik Gertten here below. Dole Food Company did everything in their power to stop the film “Bananas” from being distributed and that process is what “Big boys gone bananas” is about.

Not surprisingly, when a film like that is aired, there are reactions and mainly on the Facebook page of Dole which is currently being filled with angry comments from (mostly) Swedes. Whether Dole will remove these comments or answer them remains to be seen, so far there has been no reaction at all from the company. Keep watching.

dole bananas

Footnote: the film “Big boys gone bananas” is mostly in Swedish, but interviews and parts are in English. You can watch the film here (only visible in Sweden, it seems), one month from today. http://www.svtplay.se/video/245806/big-boys-gone-bananas

Update: Dole is apparently deleting the negative comments on the Facebook page. Here are some that I saved from a few hours ago.

comments on Dole Facebook page, deleted by Dole

Here are some comments that are still up, probably because they are comments to one of Dole’s own status updates and have not yet been discovered:

Facebook comments deleted by Dole

Of course a company may delete content from its page that is in violation to the community guidelines or the comments policy. The question is if these are. This is what Dole’s policy states:

General community “rules for engagement” include banning or deleting any content or posts that are:

• Abusive, defamatory, or obscene
• Fraudulent, deceptive or misleading
• In violation of any intellectual property right of another
• In violation of any law or regulation
• Solicitation of charitable organization or business
• Advertising for personal business or other
• Otherwise offensive (including spam posts, such as chain letters, videos, photos, and links)