Krispy Kreme and #DeflateGate

Earlier today, the @KrispyKreme Twitter account posted a funny response to the recent New England Patriots controversy around deflated footballs:

So far, the photo has been retweeted over 3000 times and that number is sure to grow quickly. While the photo is quite clever with relevant timing, when I see this, I always ask if it’s the right strategic decision. Humor is valuable, but this is humor with a negative spin, which can have consequences. As Darren Rovell pointed out in his tweet:

However, even though Dunkin’ Donuts is a competitor, the Patriots and NFL brands are incredibly valuable, and no sponsorship deal lasts forever. In fact, Krispy Kreme has a sponsorship agreement with at least one other NFL team that I know of, so while the issue is specifically with the Patriots, I doubt that the NFL likes the idea of any team partners making light of a potentially damaging issue around the integrity of the game.

Honestly, this reminds me of the Gatorade/Lebron James tweets from several months ago (see my June 2014 post, “Short-Sighted Tweeting from Gatorade“). While those tweets did not have the same humorous approach as the Krispy Kreme picture, the same risk vs. reward considerations should be applied.

Of course, it’s completely possible that they thought long and hard about the pros and cons and decided it was worth it. It has been a couple of days since the controversy began, so they had plenty of time to decide on an approach.

In the end, I just want this post to act as a reminder that any topical social content, regardless of how funny, must be considered against the value of both actual and potential future business decisions and relationships.

UPDATE: I posted this on LinkedIn as well and got a lot of great comments! I definitely didn’t want this post to imply that the tweet was a bad decision by Krispy Kreme. As some pointed out, many other brands used this technique to interject humor into an active social conversation including at least one other NFL partner, Downy. However, if you look today, Downy actually deleted their tweet (you can see it here via the @AdAge account). Charmin, another P&G brand, took down their funny tweet as well.

Ultimately, I want the lesson of the post to be that, when jumping into the social fray, you need to consider both the short-term lift in conversation vs. how that content could impact future relationships. Once you weigh those pros and cons, you should come to the right answer.