Last month, Beyoncé announced the release of a new single via a series of Instagram posts. As expected, the World Wide Web lost its collective mind. One verse in particular mentioning a brand caught the Internet’s attention:
“When he f—k me good I take his ass to Red Lobster“
From a brand’s perspective, this is amazing, right? Free publicity from the biggest artist in the world without having to spend a dime?
Now all Red Lobster had to do was give the Internet what they wanted: an authentic, witty response that shows that its marketing team understands its audience and pop culture. Easy enough, right?
Well, the Internet waited for the response. And waited. And waited some more. Hours went by with no response from Red Lobster. The internet lost its patience, and a barrage of tweets began flooding in.
Nearly 10 hours after the release of “Formation,” Red Lobster finally responded with a tweet. And not just any tweet, this tweet:
— Red Lobster (@redlobster) February 7, 2016
The BeyHive wasn’t having it. The floodgates were opened, and Red Lobster felt the wrath of the interwebz. At this point, it would’ve been a good idea for Red Lobster to stay quiet and move on. Unfortunately, they attempted to justify their lameness: Is the social media manager also baking the biscuits? It’s never a good idea to try to counter the Internet. After all, the Internet is (and will forever be) undefeated. Then they hit us with this: Too little, too late. Finally, they capped off the weekend with this gem:
— Red Lobster (@redlobster) February 9, 2016
Ugh. Brutal. So what is the takeaway here?
Brands can no longer fake the funk.
Authentic communication in advertising is crucial for brands trying to create a deep, meaningful connection with their audiences. Whether on the agency side or the client side, Red Lobster’s team either doesn’t understand its audience or is afraid to embrace the madness of impactful social media marketing in 2016.
This whole debacle speaks to a larger issue: the advertising industry lacks diversity (a topic that truly deserves its own article). The same industry that is tasked more and more to communicate with blacks and Hispanics is dominated by white creatives. When those cultures are not represented within the team, it’s painfully obvious.
On top of the diversity issue, it sheds light on the importance of staffing individuals that are plugged into pop culture. Especially pop culture in the social sphere where brands are interacting with a younger, Internet savvy audience. If Red Lobster had that person(s) on its team, it would have been quicker to respond and its tweets would’ve been way more aligned with what its audience expected. Red Lobster stayed safe and paid the price.
The overly conservative brand is being left behind while the non-stop train known as the Internet continues to move.
Top image courtesy of Beyoncé’s Facebook page.
Readers: What would you do in Red Lobster’s shoes?