Debenhams, a British multinational retailing giant founded in the eighteenth century as a single store in London which has now grown to 172 locations across the UK, Ireland and Denmark is the epitome of success. After today’s events it now stands to lose millions of pounds from one single Facebook Post. Could hundreds of years be ruined by a couple of sentences and a picture? Yes, without the shadow of a doubt.
Social Media is the ultimate marketing platform for any company or individual on this planet looking to preach to an audience: the pinnacle of public relations. It can help strengthen a brands values or it can transform a start-up into an online monster with just one message. Once a social campaign starts getting spread around like wildfire and it goes viral the company or individual behind it can sit back, take a swig of champagne from an endless reservoir of sweet sparkling nectar and never have to count pennies for the rest of eternity. However it can dilute a brand’s values, taint a proud reputation and possibly lead to the destruction of the respective company or individual.
Today unfortunately the latter has occurred. A shopper aged in his 40s plunged to death from a third floor escalator in the Oxford Street Debenhams flagship store. Five shoppers watched in horror as a man plunged to his death from an escalator in Debenhams’ flagship store. Children were among those who witnessed the tragedy at the shop on London’s Oxford Street and had to be treated by paramedics for shock.
So what statement or message does Debenhams as a whole have on this? Well let’s take a look at their Facebook channel where its name is trending. Click. One new post for today. Click. And then this is what comes up:
Shocking! Absolutely shocking! Out of 172 locations (173 if you count online) the post just had to be about the Oxford Street Store. The lack of respect for a human life, for integrity and compassion encompassed into one stupid little message is just incredible.
Debenhams’ reputation and bank account has taken a massive blow and as the angry comments start to flood their Facebook Channel one can only imagine how awkward the Social team will feel on Monday. Early predictions from financial analysts have already claimed that this tragedy coupled with the site problems it is currently going through will create a social frenzy that could potentially result in a loss of millions.
So how should have Debenhams dealt with the situation? Easy! There are two options:
Option A. Don’t post anything for a couple of weeks regarding the Oxford Street Store. You have 172 other locations to talk about.
Option B. Post a message of condolences and confront what happened head on with sympathy.
What planet do we live in where shopping overshadows a human life? If this is the case, Mr. Richard Branson please take me to another. Quick!