Trend Carefully: DiGiorno Delivers Hashtag Gaffe

A misused hashtag is causing headaches for DiGiorno and teaches brands a lesson in PR.

DiGiorno is still scrambling today to make up for a tone-deaf tweet that made light of a rather serious Twitter dialogue surrounding domestic violence.

The hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft have been trending since Monday, when writer Beverly Gooden leveraged the coverage surrounding the suspension of Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice to discuss what motivates women who suffer from domestic violence.

Participating in trending hashtags is on page one of the social media playbook for brands, but whoever runs DiGiorno’s social media forgot to take the temperature of the discussion before chiming in, tweeting, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”

The tweet was almost instantly deleted, but screengrabs of the offending tweet began circulating just as quickly. DiGiorno followed-up with the standard issue apology you would expect a brand to make after a bonehead move like this, but the apologies haven’t stopped there.

In an unusual strategy, DiGiorno has take the extra step of individually apologizing to people who mention the blunder on Twitter. Each apology is in the first person and seems sincere. In reading the dozens of individual mea culpa’s made in the aftermath, the brand sounds much more heartfelt and human than the many brands who have faltered before.

As this incident becomes a case study of how not to participate in trending topics, it will be telling to see if other brands use the same tactic for future PR nightmares.