It’s fair to say that the Republic of Ireland and the UK have a fairly controversial history.
A quick Google search unveils a wealth of information about the Irish uprising, so you would think that multinational corporations operating across the countries would consider any sensitive issues when deciding which creative will work well in the markets.
Back in March, Nike launched a new trainer to commemorate St Patrick’s Day; the ‘Black and Tan’ sneaker, innocently named to represent one of Ireland’s greatest exports, Guinness. Amazingly, however, Nike failed to realise that the ‘Black and Tans’ were the violent British paramilitary unit, the Royal Irish Constabulary reserve force, that conducted brutal reprisals during the early 1920s Irish Independence Wars, including the atrocities of Bloody Sunday in November 1920.
So, with only three months since this marketing disaster, surely another global brand can’t do it again?
Oh, hello Starbucks.
While trying to get into the spirit of the jubilee, the brand managed to land itself in hot water by asking its @StarbucksIE followers what makes them proud to British. Worse still, Starbucks failed to fix the problem quickly, leaving users waiting hours for an apology.
This led to a barrage of complaints from Irish users, with the topic trending in Ireland. Users demanded an apology, and were greeted with one some four hours later. With Irish consumers finally beginning to show signs of warming to the Starbucks brand (€490K profit in Ireland this year compared with a loss of €3.3M the previous year), this erroneous tweet could prove costly.
The content on both the @StarbucksUK and @StarbucksIE accounts is almost identical, suggesting that this mistake is most likely a result of a poorly designed content plan rather than a post made from the wrong account.
This gaffe raises the debate of global versus regional Twitter accounts for brands operating in multiple territories. Regional accounts are most definitely relevant in certain situations. However a clear content plan must be in place and regional sensitivities must be considered.
Having multiple accounts that post the same content is counterproductive in my opinion, and brands should look to tailor content specifically to each region. To put it simply, a region-specific account should be managed from within its region.
Significant problems can arise when managing multiple Twitter accounts, with incorrect posting an ever present threat (Tweetdeck users have surely felt this fear!). With regional sensitivities thrown into the mix, problems are inevitable if it’s not managed properly.
From Insight Executive John Paul Fox @johnpaulfox #YomegoSocial