epic fail

Image credit: www.mashable.com

Twitter is an incredibly valuable tool for brands. When used well, it can increase brand awareness, drive word of mouth and positive recommendation, and spread branded content far and wide. Not to mention driving web traffic and footfall in-store, and providing a medium for companies to talk directly to (and with) a pool of potential and existing customers, strengthening loyalty, affinity and brand love. That’s a lot of positives…

But on the other hand, things can go wrong, in a big way.

Below are our top five #epicfail moments on Twitter of the past few years. We think you’ll agree there are definitely some lessons to be learned. And, being marketers, we do love a good learning.


 1.       HMV Goes Rogue

 Just the other week we saw an HMV employee go rogue on the brand’s official feed, sparking a Twitter and media frenzy and highlighting just how out of touch senior management were from their own business’s social media strategy.

 HMV Twitter fail 2013

Moral of the story?  An understanding of social media is needed throughout every business, right up to the top (and that includes knowing who has the login details).


2.       Kenneth Cole #Cairo Faux Pas

The Kenneth Cole official Twitter feed felt the wrath from other tweeters when they misused the trending hashtag #Cairo last year. The hashtag was trending due to protests in Egypt at the time which the brand ill-advisably saw as an opportunity to raise awareness of their new spring collection. After tweeting “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo, rumour is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”, the feedback wasn’t positive. The company soon deleted the tweet and apologised, calling the incident poorly timed and inappropriate.

 Kenneth Cole Egypt hashtag

Moral of the story?  If it’s relevant to your business, then join in with a trending conversation by all means, but never use it as a sales driver. Your followers will call you out on it before you can locate the delete button.


3.       Marc Jacobs Intern Invasion

In March 2011 a stream of messages from someone claiming to be an intern at Marc Jacobs HQ appeared on the official Marc Jacobs Twitter feed branding the company CEO, Robert Duffy, “a tyrant” amongst other complaints. The tweets were promptly deleted by the company and the incident was blamed on a stolen password.

Marc Jacobs Intern Tweets

 Moral of the story?  Once they regained control of their feed the execs at Marc Jacobs pretty much summed it up themselves when they tweeted: “Protect your passwords”.

Marc Jacobs Intern Twitter Meltdown


4.       #McDStories

In January 2012 McDonalds thought they were onto a winner with their #McDStories campaign. Obviously understanding Twitter’s potential as a conversation medium, they invited users to share their Maccy D experiences using the designated hashtag. Slightly predictably however, many took this as an opportunity to share their less than positive stories. Fingernails in your burger anyone? Not quite the content McDonalds had hoped to generate…


Moral of the story?  Think about all possible outcomes when launching a campaign. There will always be haters out there but risk assessment is key.

It should be noted that following this flop, McDonalds Canada came up with an innovative response: ‘Our Food. Your Questions.’ The microsite allows Canadian McDonalds customers to post any question they like to be answered by trained McDonalds representatives – not in real time – but nevertheless the answers are publicly posted to the site for all to see. Clever.


5.       Qantas Luxury

Qantas set themselves up for a fall with the hashtag #QantasLuxury at a time when thousands of their passengers were stranded overseas due to the entire fleet being grounded. Posing the question “What is your dream luxury in-flight experience?” to win a pair of pyjamas, the airline was hit with a tirade of complaints from disgruntled passengers.

Qantas Luxury Twitter fail

Moral of the story?  Think before you tweet! Make sure you know what is going on within your business and use your common sense before launching a campaign to avoid an unnecessary public backlash.


Did we miss any? Let us know your memorable #epicfail moments in the comments below.