Susan G. Komen FAIL

Corporations that have supported the Susan G. Komen foundation over the years have quickly learned a valuable lesson about social media management – the company you keep does matter! Just like in real life, you are often judged by the company you keep.  After the Komen Foundation announced they were going to pull all financial support from Planned Parenthood on the basis that PP was under investigation for accusations of illegally using taxpayer money to provide abortions, a storm started brewing.

The Komen foundation has since reversed course and will continue to help fund breast cancer screenings and services through PP, but for many, the damage has been done. The Komen Foundation has plenty of PR repair to do on their own, but so to do many of their corporate giving partners. Seeing how different companies have responded to the situation, to keep it simple just on Facebook,  provides us with a valuable lesson in SMM – and a handbook in how to stay off Fail Kitty’s radar.

How I canz get my 8 breast exams now??

  • Microsoft is sanitizing their wall. Posts made directly to their wall questioning their support for SKG are removed. They have not however been able to keep the comments hammering them for their SKG support out of the comments on their own posts. They are not addressing the issue in any way – just deleting post after post and blocking users that try posting SKG related threads multiple times. Their wall looks mostly nice and clean, but covering up is not really handling the issue.
  • Nordstroms is getting hit hard, and it is a dual whammy for them. Not only are they having all their posts flooded with SGK related negativity, they are getting flooded with angry posts over people tired of them getting piles of notices from their Pinterest updates who are reporting them for spam and TOS violations for improper use of boards. Nordstroms is taking the lazy route – they are pulling new threads related to SGK, but they aren’t responding to the comments slamming them. They just keep posting fresh stuff and pretending they don’t see it.
  • Payless Shoe Source, who usually does it right when it comes to SMM, have done nothing! Their page has been submerged in negativity. They not only aren’t answering the posts or deleting them, they aren’t even managing the account for over 48 hours now. They went dead in the water. Not a good strategy at all. This was a huge surprise – we’ve pointed to Payless in the past as an example of how to do Facebook right.
  • Otis Spunkmeyer took a minimalist approach. They addressed the issue one time. They stated they were looking into everything regarding their relationship with SGK, said they would make a decision on what to do going forward, but that they were not commenting further at this time. That was all it took to keep people from piling on them. Their FB page went back to business as usual almost immediately.
  • Pepperidge Farm actually did cut ties with SGK a month ago, but SGK has not yet removed them from their corporate sponsor list, so PF got a dose of it all as well. They decided to answer each post personally. Doing that looks professional, it explains they when and why of how their relationship with SGK ended, and it builds good relationships with the people they engage. Aside from one brain damaged troll that either can’t read or won’t quit because it is all he has to do with his life, the Pepperidge Farm page is rolling along smoothly.

Five different companies with five different approaches to the same problem. One is filled with more tiger blood and win than Charlie Sheen ever dreamed of. Another is weak but acceptable. Two are oblivious and while not full of fail, they certainly have a dose of fail around the edges. Payless however, of all companies, is full of FAIL on this one.


  • Old Navy had NO flak on their wall, which made me suspicious. I posted a query asking for a comment, and it was promptly removed. They did a better mop-up job than Microsoft or Nordstrom’s did – they must have pulled whole comment threads if anyone posted a reply that mentioned the issue. So they look squeaky clean, but elsewhere are getting called out for their refusal to respond.
  • Energizer stated they are donating $50K to a local hospital to be earmarked for mammograms for underserved women. They did not say what their action in the matter of supporting SGK would be.
  • The Republic of Tea issued a statement saying they were passing on all of their customers concerns directly to SGK, and were going to review the advisability of their own “Sip for the Cure” campaign in light of recent events.

10 Comments on “Susan G. Komen FAIL”

  1. SGK dropping their support of PP was an ill thought out action based on political calculations but, they did not have the guts to say so for fear of losing their support. Well they are indeed losing support.

  2. TaxCoach says:

    Thanks for the update – this is a lesson everyone need to learn – don’t let things get worse – handle it promptly & professionally.

  3. txwikinger says:

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog and commented:
    Social Media is not always easy. How can you deal with unwanted posts and comments?

    • Grace Alexander says:

      Thanks for reblogging!!

      It is hard and even unpleasant to deal with “bad” social media, but ignoring it is 100 times worse than at least acknowledging the people who are upset. Companies which capably handle social media are the ones that see opportunity in every unhappy comment or review.

      It is their choice to either (A) ignore it and let havoc reign, at the expense of their reputation (Payless), (B) address the issue transparently (as Pepperidge Farm did, and Otis Spunkmeyer at least attempted) or (C) try to squash or suppress the issue (Microsoft and Nordstroms) which has close to the same effect as (A) in the long run.

  4. ridexc says:

    It has all been quite instructive, hasn’t it?

  5. ronromero says:

    Nice lesson to learn.

  6. Kratom East says:

    goes to show the power of social media !

  7. If you didn’t think social media is powerful…think again 🙂

  8. Liz Pullen says:

    I really didn’t realize that corporate sponsors of the Komen Foundation were getting hassled like this on Facebook. I hope this is not the response Planned Parenthood wanted when they promoted the news that their funding was getting cut.

    • Grace Alexander says:

      I’m pretty sure PP had no idea of the support that would spring up, and I wouldn’t say the sponsors were getting hassled. The ones that came in quick with a reply to requests that they not support Komen – whether or not it was what people wanted to hear – were more or less left alone (aside from one wingnut troll) and asking companies not to sponsor unethical organizations isn’t that uncommon. I’ve boycotted Apple for their human rights violations overseas and Chik-Fil-A for supporting ‘pray the gay away’ camps in the New England area.

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