Tesco has a social media moment as it cracks #horsemeat joke

Tesco Burgers: tesco has a social media moment during horsemeat scandalA bad week for Tesco and let’s not forget Iceland, Aldi and Lidl as the horsemeat burger story has cantered…okay enough of that. Yesterday Tesco took the initiative and ran national newspaper ads to apologise for selling beef burgers that contained horsemeat. In the midst of all of this social media, and Twitter in particular, has largely been used to mock the UK’s biggest supermarket chain. Tesco’s own customer care Twitter account @UKTesco, which strikes a generally light and humorous tone, has been fairly quiet during the #horsemeat scandal and could have been used to better effect.

Tesco has clearly been monitoring social media where many of us first heard about the #horsemeat story and last night it decided to shake things up a little and its @UKTesco account took a chance and cracked a perfectly timed #horsemeat joke and it seems to have paid off.

This is one of those moves that could have clearly backfired, but the gap between the Tweet and the start of the #horsemeat scandal appears to have been just wide enough to allow Tesco to have a social media moment. Demonstrating again the simple elegance of a Tweet that allows the creation of a message that can say enough without saying too much.

It is along the lines of rival Sainsbury’s when it did its Hulk Hogan Tweet last year — although Sainsbury’s wasn’t being pilloried at the time.

The Tesco Tweet seems to have paid nicely off having already been retweeted around 2,000 times. It would be interesting to know how much thought went into this and how it might help Tesco’s slightly tattered reputation in the longer term. What do you think?

Not everyone is a fan. The Daily Mail is running a “backlash story”. Personally, despite Tesco saying it is backtracking (although this does not seem like a “scheduled” Tweet), I think it can get away with this and it does work. The Mail thinks differently.

“But the supermarket giant has found itself at the centre of an internet storm after a tweet posted on its Twitter feed informed shoppers yesterday that its staff were off to ‘hit the hay’. The ‘inappropriate’ quip triggered a flurry of angry responses from followers who didn’t find the damaging revelations quite so amusing.

“Supermarket bosses were quick to backtrack, desperately apologising to offended clients, saying that the tweet had been ‘scheduled’ before the scandal broke – two days earlier. But that only stoked the anger further, triggering questions as to why the tweet was not pulled before being sent. It began at 11pm last night when the team tweeted: ‘It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets’.

Immediately, hundreds of the company’s followers replied, condemning the pun for its inappropriate timing and bad taste. Burger factory at a standstill after MORE horse meat is found as Premier Inn becomes latest big firm to ditch beef over contamination fears
Jake Mulley wrote: ‘How can you joke about the horse meat scandal abnd tell us you’re hitting the hay? Because it was funny?’

@UK life guide added: ‘It’s not really funny when you make horse jokes. The joke is ON you. Wonder if you’ll be laughing when getting sued.’