Pepsi shows use of social media to manage the outrage

December 5, 2008

I’ve been talking a lot about outrage lately. How easy it is to trigger and how to deal with it, particularly on the internet and social media world when you accidentally trigger it. Well, Pepsi did with a rather tasteless ad that depicted a lonely calorie committing suicide. The outrage grew and Chris Abraham, a blogger for Ad Age, tweeted and blogged on it, as did many others concerned about the sensitivity to the issue of suicide.

Chris received a response to his tweet from Pepsi. His post “Pepsi Apologized to Me for its Suicide Ads” provides a pretty good case study on how one company is directly involved in the social media and trying to head off the firestorm of outrage that happens all too often.

It’s amazing (perhaps only to old guys like me) how fast things change in this internet and instant news world. If you have any visibility at all, particularly if you are trying to be edgy and creative, you had better be prepared to respond quickly in case you inadvertently trigger the outrage that lies beneath the deceptively placid surface of social media. Responding quickly means a combination of aggressive and personal interaction with those who are outraged, identifying those with a powerful presence who can influence so many others, and then dealing with mainstream media who invariably will jump in once they determine there is enough interest and a story that can be put into their good guy-bad guy framework.

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