5 Worst Public Relations Fails Of 2012

Big businesses play a role not only in supplying their goods and services to people, but in the grander scheme, in setting an example for business ethics and relations with your customer base. Last year saw some terrible PR situations for many big businesses. Here are some of the most memorable.

Pink slime

In March 2012, ABC News aired images of an ingredient used by many meat resellers, now famously known as “pink slime”.  The material, which is a mechanically separated and disinfected beef product, is officiallyknown as lean finely textured beef. Although many consumer reports said it was safe, it looked so horrifying that it led to massive layoffs for Beef Products Inc. – or BPI, which eventually sued ABC for around $1.2 billion.

Burger King’s employee stands on salad

Burger King

July 2012 was a rough month for Burger King. An employee thought it would be funny to post an image of himself standing with each foot in a tub of Burger King lettuce, with the caption “This is the lettuce you eat at burger king”. Burger King, aided by members of the Internet messaging board 4Chan (where the image was initially posted),  tracked down the culprit, who was fired along with two other employees.

Apple Maps

After choosing to banish the widely loved and used Google Maps app from the iPhone in September 2012, Apple released its own map app – one that was so bad that the CEO had to issue a public apology. It got many people lost, and didn’t feature any kind of public transportation mapping. The project manager who oversaw the creation of the app was fired months later.

American Apparel’s Sandy Sale

Am Appy

In an outrageous move, something that is almost expected of American Apparel, the clothes line rode on the “trend-wave” of Hurricane Sandy and offered customers the chance to get 20% off all their merchandise if they were “bored during the storm” – a storm that killed 100 people. What’s worse is that American Apparel hasn’t apologized or acknowledged any problem with its campaign.

Susan Boyle’s unfortunate hashtag

Susan Boyle

Many people must still be shaking their heads at this one. Upon the release of her newest album, Susan Boyle was to host a party. Twitter, being the free and effective marketing platform it is, was used to spread word about the party, with the tag #susanalbumparty – a phrase that might have a somewhat racier than intended meaning. The hashtag was quickly changed to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty, but word spread fast and there was no undoing the mistake.

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Post courtesy of Jeff, a writer for the PR agency: www.epiccommunications.co.za – a firm well versed in crisis communication services and reputation management.