The dustup began March 9, when one of the agency's staffers
tweeted from the @ChryslerAutos account: "I find it ironic that
Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to
According to those familiar with the episode, the employee
thought he or she was logged in to a private Twitter account rather
than Chrysler's account. The employee had access, along with a team
of other agency and client-side people, and wrote tweets throughout
the day as part of his or her job.
After the expletive went out, it was quickly deleted, but had
been retweeted by a few Chrysler followers and spread to blogs.
"Even if it had gone out under their private account, we would have
had issues with it as it indirectly referenced a Chrysler ad and
violated the company's policy about texting while driving," said
Chrysler spokeswoman Dianna Guitierrez. (Ad Age was unable to
determine whether the tweet went out while the employee was indeed
Policy aside, the incident illustrates the common divide over
social-media control by marketing and communications. Early in the
day after the tweet went out, Chrysler's communications team was
still grappling to get hold of the details to answer bloggers and
media, because Chrysler's marketing department controls Facebook
and Twitter social-media accounts that are "consumer facing." The
communications department has separate Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
and Flickr accounts that are meant to be "media facing."
Many companies say the divide only serves turf and budget wars,
not the brands. "All that has blurred, so it's critical for
communications and marketing to be coordinating and cooperating all
the time," said Stuart Schorr, VP-communications and public affairs
at Jaguar-Land Rover North America. One of the issues creating the
turf war, he noted, is which department gets the budget.
For Jaguar Land Rover, for example, all tweets and Facebook
posts are cleared by a small internal communications group, said
Mr. Schorr. Land Rover's marketing agency, Wunderman Worldwide, manages Land
Rover's branded Twitter account, but all posts are cleared by
communications. One outside agency person has access to the Twitter
accounts, and that person is only a functionary to post
pre-approved content. Communications runs websites, Facebook pages
and Twitter accounts branded InteractiveJaguar and
InteractiveLandRover. Those websites were created and are managed
by Icon Interactive, Ann Arbor, Mich.
"My belief is that communications is better trained and oriented
to deal with the real-time and back-and-forth nature of social
media, but we have a very collaborative and coordinated effort with
marketing," said Mr. Schorr.
Chrysler would not make any marketing executives available to
talk about the episode. On its website, Pete Snyder, CEO of NMS,
said the agency "regrets this unfortunate incident. ... We respect
their decision and will work with them to ensure an effective
transition of this business going forward."
He also declined to comment on reports from insiders at Chrysler
that NMS was in a tough spot before its employee dropped the
f-bomb. Mr. Snyder himself was said to have irked the automaker
last month for talking about the company's two-minute Super Bowl ad
starring Eminem the Friday before the game on a news program after
the client had sworn staff and agency to secrecy until kickoff.
That ad introduced the new tagline for Chrysler, "Imported From
Detroit," and is part of a brand positioning the company is
building around "The Motor City" and American values and pride.
The tweet was seen in even harsher light given that campaign
strategy. In the automaker's communication blog to the media,
Chrysler Communications staffer Ed Garstens wrote, "The tweet
denigrated drivers in Detroit and used the fully spelled-out
F-word. It was obviously meant to be posted on the person's
personal Twitter account, and not the Chrysler Brand account where
it appeared. So why were we so sensitive? That commercial featuring
the Chrysler 200, Eminem and the city of Detroit wasn't just an act
of salesmanship. This company is committed to promoting Detroit and
its hard-working people."