DiGiorno Pizza's Domestic Violence Reference Get Slammed

Using social media for marketing can be a powerful tool for companies. It can also spark a viral explosion of anger and outrage if done badly, as DiGiorno Pizza, a brand owned by Nestlé USA, just learned. The company inadvertently tied buying frozen pizza to stories about domestic abuse, which are labeled on Twitter #WhyIStayed, and the backlash was quick, according to Time.

The #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft hashtags were created by writer Beverly Gooden in the wake of the release of the video showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice physically abusing his then fiancé, now wife Janay Rice. "[T]he internet exploded with questions about her," Gooden wrote. "Why didn't she leave? Why did she marry him? Why did she stay?"

Gooden had lived through domestic abuse herself and understood how complex the answers to those questions could be. The hashtags were meant to encourage women and also men who had been victims of abuse to share their stories, and thousands participated, according to the Washington Post.

Normally, DiGiorno makes smart use of Twitter, like when it released a volley of humorous pizza references while during the TV version of the Sound of Music, according to ADWEEK. This time was different.

Someone in DiGiorno's social media group must have noticed the hashtag without doing the research necessary to have understood its context. So up went a post that read, "#WhyIStayed You had pizza," according to a screen shot taken by Scott Paul, an advertising account executive in Florida.

The company's Twitter account immediately got an earful. The unnamed person responsible immediately apologized on Twitter and kept apologizing. And apologizing.

Some people accepted the apology. Others, like the people who responded, "Reading is hard" and "Tweet out your resume tomorrow. Someone will take pity on you,' weren't so understanding.

Nestlé, which also owns the Tombstone and Jack's pizza brands, issued a statement provided to AOL Jobs:

This tweet was a mistake. We quickly realized the mistake and deleted it seconds later. Our community manager, and the entire DiGiorno team, is truly sorry. It does not reflect our values. Since the tweet, we've been personally responding to every person who has engaged with us on social media. Unfortunately this is the cause of a human error. We apologize for the distasteful tweet.

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