This is an exclusive blog post by Uche Briggs. "...The challenge however is that satire and/or sarcasm are double edged swords – they can generate a good traction as easily as they can cause uproar..."
Contrary to popular belief, Social Media management for brands is no easy feat. While many brands may attempt to engage meaningfully online, only few have the requisite intelligence, technical know-how and financial commitment to get it right.
Chicken Republic is one of those rare ones.
For a brand that has shown that it is one not afraid to venture into where others dare not in advancing its presence online, it would be rather unwise to single out one post from Chicken Republic rather than a proper interrogation of the brand’s entire online deployment plan.
As is evident, Chicken Republic’s deployment strategy on twitter clearly has some thought, the tone of voice is distinct and the imagery so far has been spot on. Engagement on the Twitter page has been nothing but stellar. For me, the Chicken character is well defined: naughty, witty, and helps align the brand with popular discourse – giving it a reason to stay relevant on the online space.
The brand has also consistently demonstrated socially conscious sides with brilliant ad campaigns that advocated peaceful elections as can be seen below.
Bitingly sarcastic at times, the brand has spared no one: President Buhari, the Nigerian National Assembly, Caitlyn Jenner, Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh, Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and only recently Olisa Metuh, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman.
This brand’s timeliness is top notch and the employ of humour is in tune with the character of the times. As Wale Lawal succinctly captures it: “Humour is the palm oil with which today’s serious words are eaten.”
The challenge however is that satire and/or sarcasm are double edged swords – they can generate a good traction as easily as they can cause uproar. With the character of social media being combustive, satire badly crafted can cause a negative turn of events.
Take a look at the controversial ‘Olisa’ copy:
For clarity, I think the ‘Olisa’ copy by Chicken Republic was a moment of unbridled brilliance – but that is what it is – unbridled. This was a risky copy to approve and the reasons are:
The margin of victory in the presidential campaign was about 2 million for a voting record of about 30million voters. The numbers aren’t enough to negate the margin of error on the piece. 12.8million people were still ruing defeat following the last elections: this was destined to be an extremely sore subject to engage. It would have been advisable to err on the side of caution given the numbers
The trial of Dasuki, the former NSA to President Goodluck Jonathan has been very contentious with allegations of high handedness by the presidency. Olisa Metuh’s case, an offshoot of the former, has generated the same amount of controversy. To have gone to bed with that copy was simply stoking the embers of an already ignited flame.
Olisa Metuh has not been convicted. His crimes are alleged and as such it will be erroneous to pass this on in the public sphere as fact.
That being said, it is pertinent to examine the mental state of the people constituting this mob screaming and hurling invectives at the brand. After carefully interrogating the evidence of Chicken Republic’s established antecedence, one makes bold to infer that no truly intelligent person with a modicum of Common sense could have been offended by that tweet to the point of threatening a boycott. I can understand the outrage, but I can never excuse it. The ad was beautifully executed, albeit unguarded, satire. Nothing more!
It is simply reductive to assume that the brand was carrying out an anti-PDP propaganda given their notoriety for disruptive communication regardless of whose ox is gored. It is also for this reason that I believe Chicken Republic ventured into foolishness by deleting the tweet. Their distinctive brand image on the online space has thus been watered down and they have lost the claim of being a refreshingly mordant brand. What a waste. The collective angst betrays a dearth of rigorous thinking, a fixation on the pedestrian and strenuously stresses the point that we are yet to eschew party leanings and sentiments in our public discourse.
At the very end, when the smoke screen of faux outrage has diffused, everyone will be alright.
Uche Briggs is a category brands manager in an FMCG company. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.