There are certain conversations that brands simply can’t be a part of, irrespective of whether the conversations are taking place in the public domain or somewhat related to their line of business. A few months ago Absa faced massive criticism for running a poll on Twitter about black tax. The criticism stemmed from the history of South Africa and how black people were systemically denied opportunities actively participate in the economy and how Absa was bailed out by the apartheid government. Their poll got people upset and most people thought it was not their place to start engaging in black tax conversations because of the amount of black people that are over indebted and poor even in the new dispensation. Banks are accused of perpetuating the situation.
Last week, fitness guru and TV personality Sbahle Mpisane got into a horrific car accident. Family, friends and fans expressed their shock and sent messages wishing her a speedy recovery. Doves Funerals (a whole funeral parlour) also saw it fit to send Sbahle a message on Twitter, wishing a speedy recovery. Furthermore Doves Funerals designed a digital card with Sbahle’s picture, the message and their contact details. The tweet didn’t sit well with many people and they accused Doves Funerals of being insensitive. Sbahle’s father – Sbu Mpisane said the tweet was opportunistic.
Frankly, the tweet was opportunistic as the #SbahleMpisane was trending on Twitter for a long time on Friday and they knew that by jumping on the hashtag they would get some brand awareness (which they did). For Doves Funerals to design a whole card with their branding and Sbahle’s photo on it was wrong. If Sbahle was the Doves Funerals’ Brand Ambassador it was going to be a different story, but Sbahle has no relationship at all with the brand. They also didn’t ask for the permission to use her image on the card alongside their branding.
Doves Funerals has since responded with the tweet below:
This response is rather flat because Doves Funerals is in the business of burying people not bringing people back to life. Hence, the tweet was insensitive and opportunistic. It is for these reasons that Doves Funerals got a Slap! What is your take?