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A little controversy with your coffee?

With a blog post deadline fast approaching and my last sip of absinthe drunk three nights prior, I was in need of a lay-up. The Internet, in its eternal wisdom and charity, served me a story right in my wheelhouse, combining soccer and social media blunders. Enter Dunkin’ Donuts, the latest corporation to make a major social media gaffe out of a light-hearted, well-intentioned post. You may recall DiGiorno did something similar with #WhyIStayed, a movement to highlight the complications surrounding the silent sufferers of domestic abuse.

Some underpaid, likely overworked bleary-eyed recent college grad tweeted out the above. Innocuous, right? Commercial partners since 2014, the connection between the two is Boston: Dunkin’ has a massive following in New England, and Liverpool is owned by the Fenway Group, overlords of the Boston Red Sox. The junior staffer probably received the brief to combine the two in some fashion, toyed around with InDesign for 45 minutes, and called it a day. Wiped their Cheetos-stained hands clean and ducked out early to nap off the hangover they’d been hiding from their CD all day. 

Success! Crisis averted? Um…no. They probably should’ve done their homework. Those Coffee Coolattas flanking the main crest? They replaced Liverpool’s “eternal flames,” a tribute to 96 football fans who tragically lost their lives during the Hillsborough disaster (NSFW, graphic), a human crush and one of the darkest moments in world sporting history. The incident is especially incendiary because 26 years later, there is still little closure as to what happened and who’s responsible, and #JusticeForThe96 can be seen as a rallying cry every anniversary. Whoops! The public outcry has rightfully been venomous. Dunkin’ responded promptly by issuing the following: “As a proud partner of LFC, we did not intend any offense, particularly to the club’s supporters. We have removed the tweet and halted the campaign immediately.” Due diligence, social media “mavens, experts, whisperers,” look it up. This partnership should’ve gotten the ax 15 minutes after the gaffe; instead, they’ll likely play out a cagey, loveless marriage and justify it by saying they’re staying together for the supporters. In all likelihood, it was an honest mistake, but of course ignorance is no excuse for insensitivity. Ah, the real-time issues of social media…

~ Chase Cambria, Jr. Copywriter, The S3 Agency


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