When Funny turns to Faux Pas: A Look at When Humour Turns to Offence on Social Media

Using edgy humour is very effective at promoting your brand on Social Media, and some excellent examples of this are the American fast food chain Wendy’s, and the toiletries company Old Spice. Both these brands have generated solid online followings through creating uniquely humorous and witty personas for their Social Media accounts, but it takes a skilled Social Media manager to walk the line between edgy and offensive, and sometimes attempts at humour backfire terribly and damage the brand’s online reputation, which costs them customers.

Here we are looking at an example of an attempt at humour falling flat on its face and damaging the reputation of the brand.

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon Twitter

The nature of this attraction, which recreates a 1,000 years of London’s history in vivid detail through immersive shows full of scares and authentic historical repulsiveness, lends itself to an approach of gritty humour on Social Media, but their Twitter activity over Valentine's Day crossed the line, and received some very negative responses.

The East End Women’s Museum called for a boycott of the attraction after calling them out for their sexist content, while other users commented on how inappropriate this content was for an attraction which caters for children and school groups.

The morale of this story is know your audience. While this type of humour may have worked for a brands such as Lad Bible or Playboy, it is a huge risk using content that will offend people.

Twitter Reaction The London Dungeon Tweets

While the people behind the London Dungeon’s Social Media accounts meant well, they inevitably caused damage to their company's reputation from their lapse of judgement. After the backlash the offending content was quickly deleted and the company’s PR manager took to social media to apologise. 

"Our ‘Dark Valentine’ campaign was a range of posts aimed to highlight the darker side of history and create debate and conversation."
"As a brand we strive to entertain our guests so they can enjoy the London Dungeon experience – both in our attraction and on social media. However on this occasion we recognise that some of the topics many felt were inappropriate and therefore we apologise for any offence caused.”

They also posted a tweet on their official Twitter account which acknowledged their lapse in judgement in the same humorous and off-the-cuff manner that The London Dungeon has become famous for on Social Media.

While the quick actions of the PR firm have helped mitigate the damage, other users had already shared screenshots of the offending posts, and several news sources picked up the story and continued to spread the unfortunate messages, further damaging the reputation of the London Dungeon.

This incident with The London Dungeon highlights the fact that once something is released via Social Media, you can never take it back. This is why brands and businesses must be so careful in what you choose to share online and, more importantly HOW you share it online. 

How SoBu Social Media Marketing Will Help

One surefire way to avoid embarrassing and harmful content being shared by your corporate Social Media accounts to to hire a professional firm to manage your Digital Marketing. A professional account manager will evaluate your target audience and makes sure all content shared is inline with their tastes and values, while not offending the general public. This ensures your brand will never appear on a “Social Media Blunders” list and will surge on with a stellar reputation.

For more advice and tips on running a successful digital marketing and Social Media Marketing campaign contact us here . One of our account managers will be happy to aid you with any inquiries.