• BURN MEDIA
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Gearburn
      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
    • Ventureburn
      Startup news for emerging markets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!

Durex social media cock up is no joke

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.

Author | Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter

Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter
Nur is an enigma with a passion for creating words. He recently entered a love affair with technology and chorizo sausages. He travels a lot -- you catch him, if you can, at a Silicon Cape event every now and again. More

33 Comments

  1. Ozzyaly

    November 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

    There are worse jokes on the web – why don’t people just take it in the spirit – like or dislike a post and get back to their beers or bench? As a PR actioner, I would never in the first place agree to a brand tweeting jokes – including a pleasure company like Durex. This fiasco is squarely the service providers fault.

  2. Steve Masters

    November 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Regardless of the jokes, does Durex not take pride in spelling and grammar. The Twitter account makes the company look like illiterate morons.

  3. Meena

    November 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    They clearly take their social media strategy very seriously and hand it over to some child with moronic views!!!
    Sexual degradation is not funny, clever or great PR!!!

  4. Brattstar

    November 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Maybe if they didnt hire “social media experts” that are fuggen 12 years old and straight out of college they would be in this situation. Morons – just because you are young doesn’t make you know anything about social media or PR or marketing – 1D 10 t error

  5. Pingback: Durex deletes offensive tweets | memeburn

  6. Pingback: Social media cock-ups « Chris Onderstall's blog

  7. Anonymous

    November 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Frankly these tweets won’t affect share prices. They will be soon forgotten. Probably not the done thing but certainly good positioning, although I doubt *that* much thought had gone into these tweets.

  8. Arthur Charles Van Wyk

    November 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I was in a taxi one day and a “conductor” (as they call the taxi assistants here in Durban) asked a 50-something year old woman to sit on a crate because someone is getting out in front somewhere and she can then have a proper seat. She refused, but the question that immediately popped into my head is whether he would try and do that to his own mother. Do they only see the R5 you pay or do they see you the person as the oh so integral part of their ability to eke out a living from opening and closing taxi doors?

    This raises the question of WHAT these PR people see when they see Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. Do they see another way they can add value to their customer’s brand, ways they can create and sustain brand engagement that did not exist before.. or just one or two more ways to “get” their hands on the client’s marketing budget. Screw the channel and the value that it offers, the take-away, the engagement opportunities and the relationships & trust that can be created.. Let’s get this money.

    The only reason I can think of for why a big company would have sloppy social media marketing like this.

  9. Pingback: What Not To Do On Twitter: Durex Tweets Hugely Offensive Joke, Blames Local PR Agency - AllTwitter

  10. Pingback: What Not To Do On Twitter: Durex Tweets Hugely Offensive Joke, Blames Local PR … » The Joke Site

  11. Mromeo713

    November 29, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    They are also not keeping in mind that women buy condoms too. I can imagine they’ve lost quite a few customers!

  12. Pingback: What Not To Do On Twitter: Durex Tweets Hugely Offensive Joke, Blames Local PR …

  13. Pingback: Olla condoms’ social media marketing campaign: creepy or innovative? | memeburn

  14. Pingback: Wow! What a week for PR no-no’s.  | Amy Linert

  15. Pingback: Durex social media cock up is no joke | memeburn | Pharmacy Technician Source

  16. Pingback: Memeburn and Gearburn relaunch, new platforms | memeburn

  17. Pingback: Why big time CEOs are tweeting up a storm | memeburn

  18. Pingback: The 21 most horrific social media facepalms of 2011 | Social Media Blog Sites

  19. Pingback: Where did they get it wrong? the social media [outrage] of the month!? « [in]tangible

  20. Pingback: 2011 worst social media campaigns | Paris Stylianides Blog

  21. Pingback: The 21 most horrific social media facepalms of 2011 | Spicer Designs – Tech News, Gossip and Game Reviews

  22. Pingback: » Durex Condoms: A Hundred Million Reasons Not To Use Them / Freudian-Slip

  23. Pingback: Phenomenally bad use of social media

  24. Jopaa10

    February 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    much ado about nothing…people are trying to be too politically correct.  Childish really…I do respect womans rights and have done so since 1963 and support the feminist movement,but there are voices that are too stridant and petty…

  25. Pingback: Worst Social Media Campaigns of 2011 – Part I « Connected Nomad

  26. Pingback: Facebook powers up Pages with admin roles and scheduled posts | memeburn

  27. Bill

    June 7, 2012 at 4:02 am

    There has to be a grain of truth to something for it to be funny.

  28. Pingback: Half of the world’s biggest companies are getting social wrong | memeburn

  29. Pingback: SA presidency suffers serious Twitter gaff | memeburn

  30. Pingback: Check out Durex’s cheeky response to SA’s rowing gold | memeburn

  31. Pingback: GetSmarter with a Certificate in Social Media | Between 10 and 5

  32. Pingback: Don’t tweet drunk and 6 other lessons from two recent social media fails | memeburn

  33. Steven Norris

    October 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

    You sir, win comment of the day.

More in News, Social

Are banks and social media a good fit? Take a look at FNB

Read More »