Microsoft Apologizes For Trying To Cash In On Amy Winehouse On Twitter

Microsoft’s UK PR team made a huge Twitter (and just plain common sense) misstep earlier today when they tried to direct grieving Amy Winehouse fans to purchase her album on Zune. Read on for details about this Twitter fumble.

This is yet another lesson in thinking before you press “send”. If you’ve ever sent out a tweet that you’ve immediately regretted, it might be reassuring to know that PR teams for corporate giants like Microsoft can make the same mistakes.

Early on Monday morning, the Microsoft UK PR Twitter account (@tweetbox360) sent the following tweet:

The tweet, which asks people to “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune” is referencing the recent death of singer Amy Winehouse at the young age of 27. News of her death spread quickly on Twitter, and many fans used their 140 characters to write a tribute to the troubled music star.

Microsoft’s tweet was taken as a crass attempt to commercialize Winehouse’s death, and I don’t think that’s a Twitterverse overreaction. By asking people to “shop away their problems” by buying Winehouse’s seminal album on Zune, Microsoft took a tragedy and tried to turn it into profit.

Suffice to say, Microsoft quickly did an about-face on that offensive tweet, sending out two clarifying tweets an hour later:

“Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you.”

“With Amy W’s passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

An apology was definitely warranted in this case. Whether Microsoft was truly trying to express their grief by prompting people to buy Winehouse’s album or were simply trying to capitalize on a Twitter trending topic for sales, it was a tasteless tweet to begin with.

So, marketers and social media managers, take this as a lesson: use some common sense before you send out a tweet. Capitalizing on a tragedy by selling your wares will not only anger your followers, but it is a pretty sleazy thing to do, period.