Not long ago we blogged about embracing negative content via social media. It was part of our Social Media Advent Calendar series that was inspired by an infographic from Fast Company, ‘The 36 Rules of Social Media’. In the blog we use Taco Bell’s response to a hoax promising that one of its restaurants would be opening in a small Alaskan town as an example.
While the company didn’t receive any backlash for the hoax – they had nothing to do with it – the people in the town were nonetheless disappointed. Taco Bell saw an opportunity and took it. They responded by airlifting a truck into the remote town where they served free tacos to the town’s residents. They used it as part of a commercial and the video went viral on social media.
Yet another example comes from the White House. Reporters, bloggers, and social media users around the country shared the White House’s official response to a We the People petition encouraging the U.S. to construct a Death Star by 2016 – for those few unfamiliar, the Death Star was a moon-sized space station from the Star Wars movies with the power to destroy a planet.
White House Tells Us Why the Death Star Isn’t Feasible
The White House wasn’t receiving any negative press for refusing – who would really expect them to construct a planet-destroying space station? – but used the opportunity to take a humorous approach to promoting its real efforts in space exploration.
From the response:
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
- The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
- The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
- Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
The petition response then went on to discuss the International Space Station, Mars exploration, private sector space ventures, and encouraged pursuing a career in the fields of science, math, technology and engineering. And it took note, “Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior of the sun.”
Even the title of the response, ‘This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For,’ is a play on a famous quote from one of the movies: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
Find and Seize Opportunities to Promote Your Brand in Unique Ways
Just as Taco Bell used the hoax to promote their company via social media, the petition response was used to promote the government’s efforts in science and space exploration, and to encourage involvement in the fields of science and technology. The response was written by Paul Shawcross, the Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, independent, or identify with another political party, the response was pretty humorous and is a good example of seizing unique opportunities to promote your brand and mission via social media.
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