Apparently our advice about not making PR blunders on Facebook didn’t make it across the Pacific, or at least their KFC’s Thailand-based social media team didn’t get the memo. Yesterday the franchise publicly apologized for a status update posted on Wednesday to the KFC Thailand Facebook fan page, prompting fans to stop by and pick up a bucket of chicken on their way home. It seems harmless enough at first glance – until you add the context that there was an earthquake off the coast of neighboring Indonesia that day, those fans were racing home during a tsunami warning:
As people were being urged to evacuate from beaches, the company posted this message: "Let's hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don't forget to order your favorite KFC menu."
Suddenly the Facebook post becomes more akin to running an ad in New Orleans responding to a hurricane warning by telling fans to stock up on Double Downs. Anyone who remembers the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster should be able to put together that this was not KFC Thailand’s best idea. Thailand also lost an estimated 8,000 citizens in the catastrophe, with thousands more injured. Understandably, no one was in the mood to hear someone make light of a tsunami warning – as the Associated Press reports, the page was overwhelmed with hundreds of complaints. A day later, the brand removed the offending post and replaced it with an apology.
So, once again, what have we learned? As many outraged fans are continuing to post on KFC Thailand’s fan page: think before you speak. Or, rather, think before you post on Facebook.