What is your first impression when you think of the bakery restaurant Cinnabon? It must be its famous cinnamon rolls, tasty pastries and cold drinks. However, what I think about this brand is really different from sweet. As a Chinese girl, I was unfamiliar with this American brand until last year.
The December of 2016 is a sad time for all Star Wars fans. The actress Carrie Fisher, who played the Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, died because of heart attack. I remember everyone was mourning her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with nice words and pictures. Then I saw a news Cinnabon deletes and apologizes for its Carrie Fisher tribute after Twitter backlash. Like many other brands, Cinnabon conveyed its tribute to Carrie Fisher in its own way. The tweet was a image of Princess Leia made by cinnamon powder and her hair is a cinnamon roll, along with the caption: “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.” The tweet made people feel uncomfortable and there came a huge backlash, because it seems Cinnabon was using a death to promote its product. That was the first time I heard about the brand, I feel it was very tacky and commercial, so different from Cinnabon stands itself as “the sweetest brand on earth.”
Under big pressure, Cinnabon deleted the tweet and send an apology one, “Our deleted tweet was genuinely meant as a tribute, but we shouldn’t have posted it. We are truly sorry.” No matter Carrie Fisher is an Star Wars actress with millions of fans or an ordinary people, using her death as a promotion is bad marketing strategy as well as bad human behavior. I think the company’s reaction to this social media crisis is not bad, since an honest apology might be the best they can do. But that was not a small incident, for audience like me, who have little perception to the brand, the Cinnabon needs to do more to bring back its sweet image.
For this blog, I did some research and found something interesting. The “best buns” tweet was actually not the first one Cinnabon did about Carrie Fisher, it was an echo to one of its old tweet. On May 4th 2016, it tweeted the same picture with caption “Here’s to the princess with the second-best rolls in the galaxy. #MayThe4thBeWithYou” The brand may did not think much when they use this again to mourn the pass away of Carrie Fisher, but I think they can do better to avoid the bad social media crisis from happening.
Cinnabon really should think the situation thoroughly before rewrite the old promotion tweet. When someone dead it is serious and sad, it is not something can be joked for or be using as product promotion opportunity. I agree the picture Cinnabon made for Princess Leia is creative and brand original, using it on May is OK, but using it on December can only reminds people that the company only cares about itself. In addition, if Cinnabon did some research, as I did even though I am not a Star Wars fan, they would knew that Carrie Fisher hated the Star Wars hairstyle depicted in their tweet picture, she referred it as a “hair prison for the fat” in her cheeks. So the truth is Carrie Fisher hated the “best bun.” Be careful before promote anything in the cinnamon way.
When I think of who and how to deal with this kind of social media crisis, the first role came up in my mind was the PR department, as they are a vital part of maintaining the organization’s image and of communicating its message to its customers, investors and the general public. But then I realize the company also needs the marketing department to work with the PR department to promote the brand in the right way. On the web, PR needs digital marketing strategies to rebuild the brand image, sometimes the line between marketing and PR is blurred in the digital world.
For me, to think the Cinnabon is a sweet bakery brand might take a while, so does the brand recovers from its tasteless tweet about Carrie Fisher.
See you guys in the next blog!