[Video] #Woolworths & its 2015 Media Crises

[Video] #Woolworths & its 2015 Media Crises

Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 13 December 15

In this week’s Media Brand Buzz report, Sandy Postlethwayt, Managing Director at Data Driven Insights Africa, looks back on the rather eventful year that Woolworths had on social media…



“We looked at Woolworths, as a brand, having been in the media quite a lot lately, more from a positive than a negative perspective,” she says.

She notes that in 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against the retailer in the Frankie’s soda dispute. In 2014, the #BoycottWoolworths sentiment emerged, in connection with the retailer trading with Israeli companies.

According to Postlethwayt, BDS South Africa, which started the hashtag in favour of ‘Palestinian rights’, experienced a ‘brand fail’ when they installed billboards across SA that had misspelled the word ‘Israel’.

“It was interesting that they took on Woolworths, and then ended up with egg on their face,” she adds.

More recently, Woolworths brought on U.S. rapper Pharrell Williams as a brand ambassador…

“This was perhaps an attempt to blur the negative sentiment hanging over the brand,” says Postlethwayt.

On November 17th, Postlethwayt recalls that a customer took a photo of an ‘incomplete’ display in a Woolworths store, which the customer labeled a ‘slavery image’.

This incident inspired the hashtag #WoolworthsMustFall.

“We took this hashtag and compared it to the earlier #BoycottWoolworths campaign,” says Postlethwayt.

She revealed that #BoycottWoolworths actually ‘outperformed’ #WoolworthsMustFall, and notes that the negative sentiment drivers differed by gender across the two.

The #BoycottWoolworths saga was ‘100% male’ driven, while the #WoolworthsMustFall was split 50/50 across the genders.

With regards to the slavery accusation, Postlethwayt says that the retailer reacted quickly on social media…

“They were honest, they were real, and they apologised for what they did,” she adds. “It’s all about the speed, and about owning up for something that was potentially offensive.”

Earlier this month, a customer took a picture of a chicken sandwich that allegedly had a condom inside it – and posted it on social media.

“Woolworths reacted quickly when it was posted, and did say they would investigate…”

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Category: Media & Research