Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is a controversial football player to say the least. His history of scandals on the pitch is lengthy and another chapter was added today during the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
During the game against Italy, Suarez suddenly bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. This was the third time he bit someone during a game as he had previously bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal and also Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Both times he got lengthy bans.
Suarez was immediately mocked on Twitter by football fans. And as often happens these days, brands also try to seize the moment and piggy back on trending events. McDonald’s Uruguay tweeted the following tweet tonight:
The tweet reads in English:
“Hi @luis16suarez, if you get hungry come and take a bite from a BigMac;) “
Reactions to the tweet were initially mixed but it quickly got thousands of retweets. What do you think? Genious or tacky?
If there are a lot of negative opinions about your brand, social media may become your worst enemy. We often hear that brands should engage in meaningful conversations with fans through social media. But when there is a lot of controversy or negative opinion around a brand, asking people on social networks to speak up might not turn out the way you expect. McDonald’s experienced this when they initiated the hashtag #McDStories, in an attempt to get people to share nice stories about the fast food giant. Instead, people who disliked the brand, hijacked the hashtag on Twitter and started tweeting complaints and snarky comments.
A similar thing is currently happening for the Liverpool FC striker Luis Suárez. He has been involved in a number of contorversial incidents during the football season in the UK, being suspended for racist comments against Manchester United defender Patrice Evra for example. And then later refusing to shake Evra’s hand before a game, later in the season (disclosure: I am a United fan).
Today, Suárez is taking questions from Twitter users under the hashtag #InterviewLuisSuarez. More than six hours ago, he tweeted that he would now be answering questions.
But no answers have yet been posted by the forward. That might be due to the fact that the hashtag is more or less filled with accusations about racism and nasty comments about Suarez’ looks.
Once again we see that brands (or celebrities) underestimate the power of social media and that they really have no control over it. If you invite people to participate, they won’t automatically show up and play nice. If your house is not in order, you will learn the hard way what people really think of you.
In social media, it is just as important to know what your fans think as it is to know what your enemies think.