Growing up as a digital native, the phrase “public & permanent” has been engrained into my brain. If only someone had reminded the marketing team at Krispy Kreme of this simple concept, the company wouldn’t be experiencing the branding challenges it is facing this week. According to a Mashable article, Krispy Kreme scheduled a donut decorating promotional event for February 18th titled KKK Wednesday (standing for Krispy Kreme Klub). The company posted its event on the main Facebook page to find an uproar of criticism, as the event name had letters tied to the hate group – Ku Klux Klan.

Facebook can be seen as an excellent channel to spread the word about events in the community. With the advent of social media, companies can reach a massive audience. Consumers have the ability to be more connected to brands then ever before. However, this deeper connection makes it harder for a brand to correct any negative impressions made.


Image courtesy of Flickr User terrykimura

What are some general implications of social media marketing? Had it been 20 years ago, Krispy Kreme would have taken down it’s offensive sign, and the situation would be resolved. I am sure that thousands of copies of the digital flyer are being circulated at this moment even though Krispy Kreme took down its original Facebook post right away. By posting on its Facebook page, Krispy Kreme essentially handed its customers a platform to discuss the KKK mistake. Another dangerous thought: with the right influencers posting in the Facebook threads, fans have the ability to completely tarnish Krispy Kreme’s reputation. Does the benefit of reaching more people through social media outweigh the potential threats of opening discussion platforms to the whole world?

I would assume that the employee who created the KKK event was not a digital native. We have grown to understand the scope of what we post on social media. After years of carefully crafting posts that maximize likes and minimize offending others, we have curated a balanced way to promote ourselves. A recent Elite Daily article, which pokes fun at the thoughts crossing an “Instagrammer’s” mind before uploading a photo, perfectly describes the diligent planning each social media post requires. A marketing manager who has not been raised to think in this mentality has a high risk of posting something offensive or awkward.

Perhaps this generational difference has come to our advantage. I, myself have definitely seen an increase in demand for young, savvy social media experts. Our ability to always think with others impressions in mind can be an asset to any company’s marketing efforts. Of course, there are some downsides to our generation’s mentality since making decisions with our peers in mind does not always foster independent thinking and growth.

The takeaway: The Krispy Kreme marketing team can use a few tips from teens.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user rpavich


2 thoughts on “Krispy Kreme Needs a Bigger Delete Button

  1. I find it amazing that companies can overlook such large gaffes. The campaign was run in England, but globalization brought the campaign to light in the US. Ads specialized for a single region can be spread across the world because of such technologies as social media. The way I see it, the Krispy Kreme occurrence tell us one of two things: it reminds us that social media is still very new or that companies don’t really learn from other companies’ mistakes. I feel that even though social media is very new, enough companies have made mistakes on it for other companies to learn to watch what they write. Apparently not.

  2. This post reminds me of a similar failure of social media marketing on American Apparel’s part. Last fourth of july, American Apparel posted a photoshopped picture of the Challenger (space shuttle that exploded) thinking it was fireworks, on their Instagram. After receiving immediate public backlash and outrage, the company promptly removed the picture, and pretty much blamed it on their intern for posting the picture out of context and out of ignorance.


    These social media marketing fiascos just reinforces the idea that social media is still so new that it can either make or break a business. Hopefully, companies only get more tech savy about their marketing techniques through social media platforms.

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