Papa John’s Pizza vs. Iggy Azalea on Twitter

Friend, client and crisis communication manager for global oil company, Tom Mueller sent me this analysis which he shared with his colleagues:

Papa John’s Pizza learned a lesson recently in managing brand via social media after one of their staff delivered a pizza to Australian rapper/model Iggy Azalea on Grammy Awards evening.

When the delivery guy recognized Iggy and realized he had her mobile number, he then shared it with some friends and family, who immediately took to texting the star. She complained to Papa John’s via Twitter, only to have the company send her a joke in reply, saying “don’t bounce us” – a play on one of her song lyrics.

Iggy (@iggyazalea) has 4.2 million followers, many of whom retweeted her further comments critical of the data breach and the company’s apparent lack of security around its customers’ personal information, including credit card data. Papa John’s eventually got smart and realized the brand risk they had incurred, probably after receiving thousands of tweets raising concerns about their company.

Iggy, for her part, was very disciplined in her criticism and did not get emotional about how the firm had treated the breach, nor about the tone of its response to her personally. She wanted answers about how the company was protecting customer data; essentially she became an advocate for Papa John’s customers around the world. Some fans urged her to sue or to demand free pizza for life. She responded that she doesn’t mind paying for pizza. Her last tweet on the issue said she wasn’t interested in a lawsuit, just wanted responsible answers from the company – and was in touch with them now.

While there is a place for humor in communications, that approach must be carefully managed with the customer’s concerns foremost in those considerations. Papa John’s missed the mark on this one.

[Great analysis and advice, couldn’t agree more Tom. I think one of the challenges here is that many companies understandably use younger staff members, digital natives, as front line of their social media team. This makes sense on the one hand. On the other, they may lack some of the judgment that comes with a few gray hairs. I suspect this happened here as one with plenty of gray hairs and definitely not a digital native, I wouldn’t have caught the “bounce” joke.]


One thought on “Papa John’s Pizza vs. Iggy Azalea on Twitter”

  1. Excellent analysis.

    However, I have to say that I’m a little tired of people saying that it’s due to age and a lack of experience that social media issues occur, and that this means companies should put “older, wiser” people on the front lines to handle these sorts of occurrences. Experience and good judgement doesn’t only come with age, it comes with adequate training. Younger generations on the social media front absolutely need to be trained in risk management, issues management and customer service. This is the responsibility of the senior management (the ones with the gray hairs) that hired them. If there is a failure on the part of training, then it is not simply age that we can fault.

    That said, yes, it may have been a young person with a lack of experience or judgement who responded to the customer’s complaint. It also could have been a senior manager who just didn’t think about the potential risk they were being faced with (which we see happen far too often). I wouldn’t be too quick to blame age. I blame a lack of training – no matter the age of the person responsible for the irresponsible response.

    PS. I’m somewhere in the middle (between digital native and “plenty of gray hairs”) and wouldn’t have caught the “bounce” joke either, but that’s not a reflection of my age but rather a reflection of me not knowing the artist’s music.

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