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What we can learn from Red Lobster's flop tweet

Unless you’re a part of the marketing team for Red Lobster or on the social team at Publicis, you know that Queen B graced us with her single “Formation” yesterday, and Twitter rejoiced. Not only did Bey drop a powerful pro-black anthem with a sick beat filled with positive images of magical black girls with curly afros, she also threw in a message to police and white supremacists. She even gave an unexpected shout-out to Red Lobster, but unfortunately, it wasn’t well received.

Brands do a lot of stupid things for retweets and the attention of the internet, but this gem fell in Red Lobster’s lap and the internet waited…

 

and waited…

and waited…

 

Until finally they gave us something.

  And, of course, Twitter wasn’t satisfied. But Red Lobster could have had the greatest tweet of all time and I’m not sure we still would’ve been satisfied. Although some spent the rest of the night tweeting shade at Red Lobster:   Others looked past the fact that the account missed a great opportunity, and brought up the reason it probably occurred.     It’s no secret that ad agencies are overwhelmingly white even though Hispanics and blacks have the largest amounts of purchasing power. Still most ads are filled with different shades of beige and brands are trying to stay relevant by tweeting about black culture that clearly no one on their team actually understands (i.e. Burger King’s dab tweet). Red Lobster’s (ridiculously late) response was just another example of this. Not only did the social media team (which is run by Publicis) take hours to respond but their response shows a clear lack of understanding of black culture. Although Beyoncé is a pop culture icon that transcends all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses, “Formation” in particular is the first mainstream, widely-received pro-black song of 2016 and for a mainstream artist to give two middle fingers to European beauty standards and police brutality all in the same song is amazing and warranted a way better tweet than what the social media team came up with. I can’t say that there are no black people on Red Lobster’s social media team, but I can draw from my own experiences of being the only black face working on a large brand. The less-than-stellar response speaks to a bigger problem within the advertising industry — a lack of representation. It’s not just important that people in ads are diverse but also that the creatives behind the ads are diverse. When they’re not, you can tell. So often brands compromise their voice just to hop on a hot trend. What bothers me the most is that black culture is popular, but black people are not. Brands will copy black culture for engagements on social media, but when it comes to black issues, they’re radio silent. The real mistake made by the social media team that controls Red Lobster’s account wasn’t the fact that they took too long to respond to the queen, but that they clearly don’t have people on the team who are plugged into pop culture even when they’re not on the clock. We can only hope the next brand Beyoncé gives a shout-out to is prepared for it (or, at least, doesn’t make us wait hours for a response).  

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