Durex social media cock up is no joke

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Durex has issued a hasty apology over an offensive, misogynist tweet apparently sent out by their public relations company on Friday.

The tweet, via the company’s South African Twitter account @DurexSA, has caused an outcry amongst tweeters, bloggers and mainstream media.

In what is a case study on how companies should not use social media to further their brand, the offensive tweet in question read:

Facing a backlash, the Durex Twitter account then initially tried to defend itself in a rather poorly-worded tweet: “The DurexSA account later posted an apparent defence of the jokes: “our followers who we engage with regularly loves it & the those who dont, com[p]lain” [sic], and “We have posted many jokes, see our timeline… And they not violent against woman! Re-read it!!!!!” [sic].”

The account also went on to post more unsavoury jokes:

“What does a good bar and a good woman have in common? Liquor in the front and poker from the back! #DurexJoke”

“What do the Mafia and a vagina have in common? One slip of the tongue, and you’re in deep shit #DurexJoke”

The tweets in question came on the eve of an international awareness event, 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

Durex account also features inappropriate photo
It has also emerged that the account carries a questionable photo on it — a photo depicting a woman wearing lingerie, with hands on her face to avoid looking at man’s “small” penis. At the time of writing the article, the photo was still on the account.

Tweets removed
On Sunday afternoon, the Durex account posted a message that the “irresponsible” tweets had been removed, although the inappropriate photo was still visible on the account.

“Due to the offensive nature and the response received, the irresponsible tweets have respectfully been removed,” read the tweet.

Apologies and retractions
On Friday Durex Tweeted: “As a brand respected by millions, we wld like 2 take this opportunity 2 apologize 4 the jokes posted on our timeline yesterday #DurexApology”

The Durex account also tweeted: “Apologies go out to @FeministsSA, but also thanks. You reminded us that rape and violence against women is still a major concern in SA.”

Durex’s marketing director Faisal Hashmi then issued a further apology by email, but remained unavailable for interviews on Friday: “Durex respects and supports the rights of women and men to have a healthy, safe and fulfilling sex life. The statements that appeared on our South Africa Twitter feed yesterday were posted by our PR agency in South Africa – Euro RSCG.”

“They were offensive and inappropriate and do not reflect the views of the Durex brand. We apologise unreservedly for the fact that this has happened and have already taken steps to ensure that this situation cannot arise again.”

The apology was blogged by the Tweeter that initially exposed the debacle FeministsSA.com

Jen Thorpe blogged on FeministsSA: “It’s sad though that Durex’s actions were able to bolster the opinions of those who already thought that using your penis to shut someone up is not rape, and to give them a small semblance of credence. I hope that everyone realises that in the first place, the sentiment that women need to be shut up at all is only valid or valuable in an extremely sexist society.”

“I thank everyone who spoke out about this on twitter, and hope that you keep on speaking out against sexism when you see it.”

Reaction and condemnation via Twitter: ‘Idiots!’

Reaction was loud and swift across the twittersphere:

It Journalist Samantha Perry couldn’t hide her bewilderment at the tweet: “…wow, did @durexsa really just tweet that?!? @FeministsSA #DurexJoke”

Social media Guru Mel Attree wrote: “Bad taste & spelling & ‘trended’ for wrong reasons, major rep nightmare @durexsa (‘recent pic’ on profile doesn’t help either) IDIOTS”

Journalist Sarah Britten wondered if action had been taken: “@DurexSA you’re obviously the sane person behind this account. Have you fired the other doos who tweets for you? You really should.

Prominent radio technology journalist Aki Anastasiou tweeted that he found the DurexSA Twitter feed “stupid, irresponsible, lame & insulting to women. Lessons on how to damage your brand online!”

Lili Radloff, who writes for magazine site Women24, suggested “somebody take the douchebag who’s tweeting off the internet machine and find your PRs. @nikthebassist @DurexSA @FeministsSA”

Has Durex screwed up its brand?
Memeburn contributor Sarah Britten on Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader writes that the tweets issued by the Durex account were “also barely literate”.

She said that while a brand like Durex would need to push the boundaries by injecting a “cleverness” and “cheekyness” in their communication, “there was nothing clever about those tweets.”

Britten wondered if it was “all a ploy to generate inches of the column sort? It’s said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but was it worth it? Has Durex damaged its brand in South Africa through intemperate tweeting on the eve of a campaign focusing on the abuse of women and children?”

Unprotected tweets
In an excellent blog post, Communication agency, Roots SA, thinks that the PR company responsible for managing Durex’s tweets may have “placed a young tweeter at the helm of their twitter account and this is a problem many companies face”.

“Placing someone you think will translate your brand at the level at which you are trying to target is a good idea. Having no-one monitor it is a mistake. Young, mid-life or old – we all need moderation,” the agency argues on its blog.

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