It's not delivery, it's bad branding. On Monday evening, #WhyIStayed and #WhenILeft began trending on Twitter in response to the NFL's mishandling of Ray Rice's domestic assault on his now-wife Janay Rice. The hashtags were a way for women and men to respond to the ensuing chorus of victim-blamers — like the Fox and Friends team — wondering if Palmer was responsible for the assault, or, "Why doesn't she just leave him?" It opened up a safe storytelling space for domestic violence survivors... and evidently, DiGiorno Pizza.
Because no brand can let a trending hashtag go by, the DiGiorno social media team decided to capitalize on #WhyIStayed by crafting their own tweet — except they had no idea what it's about. No, really, they didn't have a clue.
At about 11 p.m. Monday, the official DiGiorno Twitter sent out a tweet reading:
#WhyIStayed You had pizza.
Now, that tweet might've been funny if the #WhyIStayed hashtag was about, you know, consensual, non-abusive relationships. Here, it wasn't just inappropriate and disrespectful, but also served as an ironic reminder to the general public: No one takes domestic violence survivors seriously, and this is why we have to listen to what they have to say.
The pizza company's social media team apparently didn't take the time to research the hashtag, or scroll through Twitter's "Discover" feature to read the thousands of #WhyIStayed tweets. If they did, it wouldn't have been hard to miss that this hashtag was a storytelling catalyst for domestic violence survivors.
After receiving angry messages via Twitter, the DiGiorno account quickly deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
The DiGiorno account also personally responded to some Twitter users, calling the tweet "a terrible mistake" and admitting that there was "no excuse for it." The apologies seem sincere, indicating that this was a case of a hashtag-happy social media team.
Still, the fact that the tweet was crafted to begin with is suspect. Corporate companies are now using Twitter less as a listing for their PR releases, and more as a way to engage with their consumers and show off their company's flare. The DiGiorno Twitter account, for example, doesn't simply tweet special promotions and discounts; it live-tweets NFL football games, cracks pizza-related jokes for other hashtags, and has even created a hashtag of its own.
Here's DiGiorno jumping on the recent #ThreeWordsSheWantsToHear hashtag:
It's a more attractive way of selling a product than the ol' infomercial pitch, and there's no doubt that Twitter has gone corporate —hashtags now function as product placement. However, there are some hashtags and conversations that aren't up for discussion from pizza companies.
Here's a look into the #WhyIStayed and #WhenILeft hashtags: