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PR: How not to tweet, react on social media

by Goddie Ofose
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The former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, recently came under intensed fire for deleting his tweet condemning the murder of Deborah Yakubu, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto state, who was allegedly lynched by her colleagues for blasphemy. In the deleted post, he wrote, “there cannot be a justification for such gruesome murder. Deborah Yakubu was murdered, and all those behind her death must be brought to justice. My condolences to her family and friends.” His post was said to have infuriated a lot of Northern fanatics who openly told him to forget about his presidential ambition, as he will not get any votes from them. In a swift development, Atiku deleted the post and later disclosed that such post was made by his media aide without his approval which prompted him to delete it.

Many analysts considered the action of the Wazirin Adamawa to be a very big PR mistep for a big political brand like him. For these analysts, the former vice president who is a serious contender in the forthcoming general elections ought not  to have put up any tweet on the subject matter if he knows he will delete the tweet afterwards.

In a way, this Big PR Mistep by a big political brand like Atiku Abubakar reminds one of Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho who was axed from his Coca-Cola sponsorship deal after appearing with a can of Pepsi during a press conference at Atletico Minerio in 2012.

The mistake cost the star £1 million in unpaid earnings as his £500,000 per-year contract was set to run until 2014. After the slip up Coca-Cola’s marketing chief, Marcelo Pontes, called the deal “embarrassing”, telling a Brazilian newspaper it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Ronaldinho was not the first to seriously hack off a soft drinks brand after being pictured with its competitor.

Back in the early 1990s pop princess Britney Spears was signed to a multi-million endorsement deal with soft drinks giant Pepsi but despite all the Pepsi she could drink, Britney kept getting snapped swigging on competitor brand Coca-Cola. In 2002 Pepsi began to phase out Britney in favour of new spokesperson – Beyoncé.

Also, in the 1970s and 1980s football star O.J. Simpson was the “dynamite spokesman” for rental agency Hertz. During his athletic hey-day Simpson was one of sport’s most marketable names, until allegations of domestic abuse in 1992 saw Simpson dropped from his $550,000 per-year contract. The rental company still cannot escape the irony of its endorsement in light of 1994’s notorious car chase through California which preceded his arrest for the murder of his estranged wife and her friend.

Cocaine Kate.

On 15 September 2005, the Daily Mirror published photos of supermodel Kate Moss snorting “line after line” of cocaine at a recording studio with then-boyfriend and known drug addict, Pete Doherty. Dubbed ‘Cocaine Kate’ by the press, Chanel, who had used the model since 2001, promptly dropped Moss from their advertising, fashion house Burberry also dropped her in their statement, Burberry pointed out that though Moss had “worked successfully” with them, over the years, they too would be bringing her endorsement deal to an end.

Swedish clothing chain H&M also dumped Moss after “customer complaints”. But seven years down the line it would appear all is forgiven as Moss fronts campaigns for the likes of Rimmel, Dior and Mango.

In 2011 Rihanna appeared in a series of adverts for skincare brand Nivea celebrating the brand’s 100th anniversary. Despite being well known for her sexy outfits, raunchy performances, and even appearing in Nivea’s ads nude, the brand decided RiRi was “too sexy” for its family image and ended its association with the singer.

Head of Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, Stefan Heidenreich told German media: “The advert starring Rihanna was a no go. I do not understand how Nivea can be brought into association with Rihanna,” adding “Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”

Actors, singers, model and sports stars alike have starred in the iconic ‘Got Milk?’ ads.  In 2004 the campaign managed to attract child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who at the time were trying to move away from their ‘tween’ image. At the time the twins said they chose to star in the ads to “help make sure our fans are healthy like us”. Unfortunately, some weeks later it was revealed that Mary-Kate was not healthy and was in fact suffering from an eating disorder which saw her checked-in to a rehab facility. The Milk Processor Education Program, who are behind the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign, pulled the ads after two months out of “sensitivity to the current situation”.

For Atiku Abubakar, his recent action has sparked a lot of actions and debates among Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora. Many of them took to their social media accounts to criticize the presidential aspirant for such a mischievous act.

With the 2023 election gearing up, many citizens who once held Atiku in high esteem, as well as projecting him as the right one for the presidency, have withdrawn their allegiance after his recent action.

With the way he was criticized on the net, it is imperative to say that he has lost credibility from a lot of Nigerians, who once rated him high. Even if his claims that the post which was deleted was made without his approval, condemning such a callous act was obviously the right thing any sane person would do.

Another question many Nigerians are asking is, why did Atiku delete his comment if he is not in support of how and why Deborah was murdered?  There is no justifiable reason for one to kill another over trivial issues like blasphemy, and for Atiku to delete his tweet in which he condemned the act means he supported the murder of Deborah.

For the fact that the killing of Deborah by the mob was indeed condemnable, judging it from all angles, should have been enough reason to allow the post to fly as much as it could. He can scold the media aide, if truly the post never sought his approval, with exception of vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, top contenders, especially in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) refused to issue a statement condemning the murder of Deborah.

Obviously, the PR handlers of the former vice president failed to understand that, according to studies, most people tend to rely on their emotions instead of facts and logic when they’re making purchasing decisions. This means that when companies create PR campaigns that are designed to elicit a specific emotion from the consumers, they’re going to be a lot more influenced in their purchasing decisions.

In fact, according to research, some of the PR campaigns that have been the most successful with consumers across markets have been the ones that heavily relied on emotional content such as inspiration, friendship, happiness, and warmth. To that effect, companies can create marketing campaigns that can elicit four main emotions from their consumers – happiness, anger, sadness, and surprise.

It’s worthy of note that, Most brands want to be associated with positive emotions from their customers, and in fact, according to studies, positivity has shown to increase both engagement and sharing with target audiences. While emotional content is something that most consumers tend to share with others in their social circle, positive content is a lot more shared than negative.

In fact, one of the most shared ads in recent history came from Android, which showed clips of unlikely friendships between different animal species in an ad titled “Friends Furever”. Another great example came from Coca Cola, which changed its tagline from “Open Happiness” to “Taste the Feeling” which prompted consumers to refocus on happy people connecting with each other.

On this note, the action of Atiku has made Nigerians understand that many who are currently clamouring to emerge as the president of a heterogeneous country like Nigeria come 2023, do not actually deserve the honour being sought.

Rather than call a spade a spade, Atiku chose not to offend the north by deleting a post where he earlier condemned an obviously wrong act. This is someone that a whole lot of Nigerians once trusted to drive Nigeria in the right direction.

Atiku no doubt understands the importance of the Northern votes in his presidential ambition, which was what made him pull up such a despicable act. However, a lot of people have switched allegiance to other Presidential aspirants as his act has not only made him lose credibility but supporters as well.

To the discerning minds, he has also evidently shown to the majority of Nigerians that if elected, he cannot summon the courage of condemning evil act in the land. His burden of trust depleted and public perception and unfavourable national mood got worse after he deleted that tweet.

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