A fun week in social media – unless you work for Papa John or JCP

3 min read

By Megan Bennett, owner and president of SociallyAcceptable 

Megan Bennett | Writer/Producer | Well Done MarketingSomewhere out there are two public relations companies and a couple of social media teams that are really, really glad it’s Friday.

First up, pizza giant Papa John’s:

Papa John’s has already been in some hot water with the public for responding to news of the Affordable Care Act with an intent to raise pizza costs and cut full-time employees’ hours so they wouldn’t qualify for insurance. This week they’re in the public crosshairs again.

On May 27, CEO John Schnatter posted an apology on Facebook after two (now ex) employees left a racist rant on a customer’s voicemail following a delivery. The post now has 323 shares, 5,569 likes and 1,428 comments. This is great for their page activity but a nightmare for a real social media team to wade through.

A top-notch social media professional would read each comment and respond in some way to the 1,428 comments and questions. But lordy—how?

It’s easy to LIKE comments similar to, “Thank you Papa John, we will continue to patronize your business because you did the right thing.” But it is a bigger challenge to respond to questions like, “Out of curiosity, who profits from the $2.50 delivery fee, the business or the driver?” And where do you start when you have close to five hundred comments, rants, and concerns from customers about bad service, other racist incidents, on-the-job sexual harassment or life-threatening food poisoning? Because that’s what this letter brought to light.

Sadly, the Papa John’s social media team seems stunned into silence. They haven’t responded to one comment on the thread. A person has to wonder if they just weren’t prepared for this or if the company really only cared about the initial racist incident because it was caught on tape and sent to the media.

Follow the train wreck here.

Next, JCPenney’s Hitler Teapot hits Twitter:

Do I think that master architect Michael Graves is a Nazi? No. But a whole bunch of people in California were questioning whether JCPenney was making a pro-dictator statement when they caught sight of a Culver City billboard advertising a teapot designed by Graves.

JCPenney was on the ball when the tweets began gaining social media momentum. The company quickly responded, tweeting that had they designed the kettle it would look like a snowman and adding a photo of a kitschy yet harmless ceramic teapot.  They did a great job of monitoring Twitter for mentions of “Hitler” and “teapot” and were quick to turn the outrage to a little tongue-in-cheek fun. In fact, the highlight of the exchanges came with a tweet from comedian Patton Oswalt:



JCPenney’s efforts seemed successful—except with the Culver City mayor. He turned out to be a tough critic that wouldn’t be swayed and issued a statement that he was disappointed that JCPenney didn’t catch the resemblance (a teapot and…Hitler?) and was offended.

Mayor aside, JCPenney was still the big winner. They sold all of the teapots in short order and were the talk of TV, radio, and the web for the past three days. No matter what you’re selling or what dictator your appliances resemble, if The Today Show spends 10 minutes of airtime at the height of their viewership talking about your product and saying your name over and over and over again, you win.

I’ll let you decide if the teapot looks like Hitler.

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