Pearl Harbor Tweets: Brands Need to Be More Aware, Sensitive

As I trolled through my Twitter feed, I noticed the same tweet from two handles, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” It’s a quote that many of us love from Dr. Seuss. One account had more than 42,000 followers, the other more than 11,000. What’s the point, you ask? Well, it happened to be December 7th when I saw these posts. A day that lives in infamy, not one that would make you “smile because it happened.”

Also seen on December 7th, a tweet that simply said, “Happy Saturday!” It was posted by a major racing team. A follower was quick to quip, “How about Dec 7, 1941? This is Pearl Harbor Day.” And, then there’s the Campbell Soup Company that made an official apology after tweeting a patriotic spaghetti-O that rubbed some followers the wrong way.

Are some brands insensitive or just plain oblivious?


When it comes to major events — Typhoons. Pearl Harbor. September 11th. The upcoming one year anniversary of the tragic events at Sandy Hook — brands need to step away from their often company-centric vantage points.  They must become more aware of what’s going on outside of their corporate walls. Understanding current events and having a respect for our history should be a topic of conversation amongst corporate marketing teams or the agencies that represent them.


On days that spark remembrance or arouse emotion and heartbreak, what is the best approach to managing your company’s social presence?

Some brands might consider trying to recognize the event. Though, as seen with the above Campbell example, that can go wrong and may require adept PR crisis management. Others may choose to “go dark” — a term that simply means, don’t post. I think that whichever approach your company selects, it will be beneficial to have an upfront conversation with your entire social media team and proceed with a consistent approach.

In the rush to push out content and stand out from the competition, we must “never forget.” And, as always when it comes to social, common sense and good judgment should help direct any strategy.

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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