Brands are joining the over 700 million people watching and then commenting on social media regarding the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In the first fifteen days of the World Cup, 300 million Tweets using the #WorldCup hashtag were sent. It is looks like it is on track to overtake the London Olympics as the most tweeted sporting event.
Like politics and religion, sporting events can conjure up a lot of passion in people. And that’s where some perils to realtime marketing for organizations presents itself. The tournament has moved into the “knockout” round where if you lose then you go home. There have been some intense matches happening in the World Cup so far. The match between The Netherlands and Mexico was no exception with the Dutch team equalizing the score late in the game then taking the lead right when the clock was about to run out. Both of these countries, football (or soccer) is very important culturally.
The Dutch airline, KLM, known for their savvy social media sent out a tweet, which raised some eyebrows in some quarters. Having an understanding of Dutch culture, the tweet was sent out in jest with no malice intended. Dutch humor can be edgy and cutting.
Humor is a tough thing to pull off. Especially on a global stage. And on social media platforms such as Twitter. Cultural sensibilities are so different around humor. We can read into the tweet and assume a lot of things. And we all know what assume stands for. Perhaps we shouldn’t read into the tweet and take it on face value: a cheeky response to the outcome of a sporting match.
Should KLM have sent a tweet like they did?
That’s up to debate. It is a fine line for brands in these sorts of situations. Everyone wants in on the action. Perhaps they got caught up in the highly charged moment of the Dutch team winning the match and advancing. They did what a lot of individuals did, they tweeted out their excitement. Brands have to be very careful when being cheeky on social media. More people are listening to them even if a hashtag isn’t involved. What some find funny, others will think tasteless. It depends on the cultural lens they are looking through.
You be the judge. Was it in poor taste or harmless fun?
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As you point out, humor is a very tricky thing to pull off in general, and even more so on an international stage. And while emotions might have been high for the — presumably — Dutch social media manager at the helm, emotions will also be high for their customers in Mexico who just saw their team sent off. It would have been far smarter for KLM to take the high road and congratulate Mexico on a great match.
Tonia, I totally agree. High road is always the best. Save those sorts of posts for personal accounts not brand accounts.
What concerns me is how they handled the aftermath deleting the tweet with no explanation. You need to own the situation. Totally different from the US Airways and I’ve a feeling this may last longer from KLM.