Home Depot Social Media Racist Tweet Scandal: Home Depot Allows Offensive Tweet To Be Posted. Fires Employee and Agency
I’m not one who is one of those people you see these days that throws around the racist label frivolously, but what Home Depot recently posted on Twitter certainly is indeed racist. It’s also the stupidest post I’ve ever seen an agency do. And I’ve seen some real stupid agency posts.
I can only assume that their advertising agency wanted to be fired. They must not have liked the terms of their contract. What else could possibly explain posting this on Twitter?
Home Depot later posted a tweet apologizing for the photo and saying the person responsible had been fired:
“We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it.”
But they made matters worse by deleting the tweet. Those of us in the social media trade know how to retrieve these tweets and deleting them simply causes more rubbernecking and it appears that you’re trying to hide something. While this Tweet was indeed offensive, there are deeper questions to be asked here.
1. Was there no oversight on this image?
2. This wasn’t spontaneous, so was this image vetted and cleared by the agency or a brand manager?
3. How did the two gentleman in the picture get coerced into taking a picture with a guy in a monkey suit?
4. Who took the picture?
5. Are these Home Depot employees?
6. What college campus was this picture taken on?
7. Was ESPN aware of this picture being taken and tweeted out in front on their brand, “College Gameday”?
I could go on and on with lots of questions and I’m sure some of you reading this will have some of your own. This picture is a part of an even bigger problem. In my opinion this is what happens when brands don’t take social media seriously.
As I’ve said before, a laptop and an Internet connection doesn’t make one a social media expert. Until brands begin taking social media seriously and stop relegating social media to the entry level $30,000 per year employee, this type of thing will continue to happen. Perhaps Home Depot would have been better served by employing social media professionals who are experienced.
Brands have to stop treating social media as an afterthought. While it may initially seem expensive to hire social media executives at a salary commensurate with CMOs, it might seem like a bargain when you wake up one day and find your brand being torched on social media and possibly having to defend law suits involving claims of racism.