Five Social Media Fails of 2014

From DiGiorno's #WhyIStayed Disaster to Dave & Buster's Racist Joke

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If you want pointers on what not to do when it comes to handling your social media account, just take a look at these brands.

In an effort to be part of trending topics and perceived as culturally relevant, marketers took to Twitter to discuss everything from the Ray Rice domestic abuse case to the anniversary of Sept. 11. The lesson? There are some topics better left alone.

From racy to insensitive, here's a look at some of the biggest social media failures of 2014.

DiGiorno Pizza Jumps on #WhyIStayed
In response to the NFL's suspension of Ray Rice, who beat his wife in a widely-circulated video, thousands of women took to Twitter to confess why they stayed in abusive relationships, making #WhyIStayed a trending topic.

DiGiorno Pizza attempted to hijack the hashtag, tweeting: "#WhyIStayed You had pizza." The frozen-pizza maker quickly deleted the tweet and admitted it did not know what the hashtag was referring to before it made the post.

Dave & Buster's Racist Remark
To promote its Taco Tuesday, Dave & Buster's made a joke that crossed the line. In November, the restaurant tweeted: "'I hate tacos' said no Juan ever. #TacoTuesday #DaveandBusters"

The joke incited plenty of complaints, but it also got the Twittersphere discussing if Dave & Buster's even serves tacos. According to its online menu, at least, it doesn't. The tweet was deleted in under an hour and the company issued an apology.

US Airways Bares All
US Airways had to do damage control after it tweeted a pornographic image in April. In response to a customer who was complaining about a flight delay, the airline sent a message urging her to submit her feedback, along with a link to an extremely graphic photo of a woman and a model airplane.

In a statement provided to Ad Age at the time, US Airways said the image was "posted into our feed by another user. We captured the tweet to flag it as inappropriate. Unfortunately, the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer."

Build-a-Bear Tries to Commemorate Sept. 11
In recent years, it seems there are always a few brands that attempt to use the anniversary of Sept. 11 as a way to promote their company. This year, Build-a-Bear tweeted an image of a teddy bear wearing camouflage and dog tags, along with the company's logo and the words "We will never forget."

Build-a-Bear ultimately deleted the tweet shortly after it posted. But it's not the only company that thought it would be a good idea to use Sept. 11 as a brand-building moment. CVS also posted an image on Twitter and Facebook of the New York skyline with two beams of blue light symbolizing where the World Trade Center towers once stood. CVS' logo also appeared in the corner of the picture. CVS removed the post once people started complaining about the branding in the image.

Best Buy 'Serial' Tweet
Best Buy received flack in December after it posted a tweet about NPR's "Serial" podcast, in which journalist Sarah Koenig investigates the conviction of Adnan Syed in the 1998 murder of his ex-girlfriend.

The electronics retailer took advantage of its role in the true story. Prosecutors said in court that Mr. Syed used a pay phone in the parking lot of a Maryland Best Buy to call for a ride on the day of his ex-girlfriend's disappearance. But Ms. Koenig was unable to corroborate that there was any pay phone in that lot.

Following the release of an episode of the podcast, Best Buy tweeted: "We have everything you need. Unless you need a pay phone. #Serial" The company deleted the tweet and issued an apology.

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