Handling a Social Media Firestorm

by Kirsten Stuart

th-2 If you missed it, here it is the controversial Coke ad that played during the Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola Superbowl Ad

 While reading the article, Coca-Cola Faces Social Media Backlash Over Super Bowl ‘America The Beautiful’ Ad,” there was something said that could really get a person to think about why this ad was made. “The point of the ad was not to translate the song for “immigrants who refuse to learn to speak English, the point was to recognize and honor the diversity that is our country.”

Was Coca-Cola prepared for what was about to happen?  Social media became an immediate “battle” platform for those who liked the ad and equally for those who did not.  The comments that  flooded their Twitter and Facebook pages were either angry with Coke or the people who loved the ad and came to their defense. Regardless of what the opinion was, Coca-Cola had a PR problem.

What should a company do in this situation?

  1. First and foremost if a company ignores the situation and does nothing, that just adds to the problem. Do not ignore your fans regardless if they are happy with you or not.  Most fans will calm down with fact that you responded. Go ahead and shake your head in amazement behind the keyboard at the fact anyone is mad at your actions, just do not let the words you type transcend those feelings.  Be kind and understanding in your words.
  2. Do not delete their comments. Showing your fans that their opinion does not matter by deleting them is even worse than ignoring that there is an issue. When comments get too negative and cross the line or get repetitive and frustrating to the page moderator, you still need to respond. Take a moment if you need to, but always respond in a positive way.
  3. The most important aspect of dealing with a social media firestorm is face the issue head on.  When you see the problem coming act, do not wait to react. There is nothing more appealing to a consumer then to see a company stand up and answer the questions that are being asked from their fans on their social media sites. Whether or not a mistake was made, or the audience is divided it is equally important to be there to answer the questions of all of your fans.

Coca-Cola’s President, North American Brands, Coca-Cola North America Katie Bayne explained their position on the ad. Bayne said, “For 127 years, Coca-Cola has been proud to be a part of bringing friends and families together while memories are made,” she continued, “With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful, and Coke is for everyone.”


Regardless of ones opinion you can follow both sides on Twitter.





  1. Awesome points! I personally liked the commercial and thought that it was awesome for Coke to acknowledge the diversity in the country. I think that Coke has been handling the situation well.

  2. I loved the commercial. Yes it could pose problems because there was backlash, however this country is built on immigration. Coke did well to continue to establish its global brand identity.

  3. I loved the Coke commercial. They have always had a history of releasing ads that bring out emotions and this was just another variation of that history but this time they were bringing people together. I feel like they also handled the backlash well. If they had gone too much into a defensive mode it would seemed hypocritical. They kept their message of unity and beauty with their statement.

  4. I thought the commercial was brilliant! I think we need to embrace our diversity as a country rather than bash it! Great post!

  5. In following the aftermath Coke handled this brilliantly. There was no apology, and there should not have been. Instead they humanized the people in the commercial through short videos on their FB page.  The videos showed each person singing in their native language and at the same time they showed each of them speak English.  They showed the diversity that this country is and did it in a classy way.

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