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Cookery website eats its words

Now that's a bitter scone

In bad taste: Epicurious 'apologises' for using Boston bombings to promote recipe


April 17, 2013 6:07 by

To see a brand capitalise on the hype of any given incident – be it an earthquake aftershock in Dubai, or bombings in Boston – isn’t unheard of. It is both common and anticipated.

When Epicurious, an international food and cookery website, made the dreadful error of believing it could somehow successfully (and sensitively) combine a heartfelt sentiment for victims, while promoting its latest scone recipe, we wondered how an established company could be responsible for an enormous ‘smack my head’ moment for more than 385,000 of its followers.

If done properly, with both respect and sensitivity, it can even be rather engaging and positive for both the brand and its followers. In fact, brands need to capitalise on things to stay ahead. It’s the smart thing to do – especially if you want to end up with hundreds of thousands of active followers on any social media network.

However, Epicurious got this one very wrong, sending two tweets 30 minutes apart, with painfully awkward content; an embarrassing excuse of a tribute, if I do say so myself.

“Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today (link),” posted the New York-based website.

Thirty minutes later, they were out with another genius line. “In honour of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!”

It goes without saying; they certainly felt the wrath of social media. A single response that encapsulates the crowd’s sentiment would likely be Michelle Kelleher’s. ”Talk about jumping on a horrendous bandwagon. Despicable carry on from Epicurious in extremely poor taste,” she wrote.

To make matters worse – because brands can still recover from similar blunders – the company began frantically apologising to several of its aggravated followers, using a feeble template of an apology. Feeble, because it prominently used the word ‘seemed’ which suggests that the perception of the readers is to blame and not the brand. Did Hallmark run out of cards?

“We truly regret that our earlier food tweets seemed insensitive. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Boston,” said Epicurious. Well done. Kipp has only one thing to say about that, and it would seem that tens (if not hundreds) of its followers (and followers’ friends) agree.

Something has hit the fan and you’re swirling in a storm of a blunder. As a brand, do not shy away from responsibility and attempt to cast the blame elsewhere. The posts did not merely ‘seem’ insensitive or offensive, they were.


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