Clorox Bleach Causes Twitter Controversy with Emojis

Article by Harley Chase | esPResso Staff Writer

At the beginning of the April, you may have noticed a slight change to your favorite emojis if you opted to update your iPhone to the new iOS 8.3. According to USA Today, these changes include the addition of 300 new emojis including gadgets, representation of same-sex families and 32 new flags. The most highly anticipated of these additions included new diverse emojis that allow users to choose from a range or skin tones.

Unfortunately, these new emojis have been stirring up a bit of controversy, especially for Clorox. According to Adweek, the brand posted a tweet using the new emojis to create the image of a bleach bottle that was accompanied with the line: “New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.” With the focus on the diversity of these emojis, many users believed that Clorox’s Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 3.02.09 PMtweet suggested that these new diverse emojis should all be “bleached white.”  Although this caused a backlash from Twitter users, the tweet remained on its account page for a few days before it was deleted. The company followed up with a response tweet stating: “Wish we could bleach away our last tweet. Didn’t mean to offend-”. This response tweet then went on to state that its original tweet was referring to emojis like toilets, bathtubs and wine glasses that may need to be cleaned.

In today’s society, social media can be a curse or a blessing for brands.  What can be learned from the Clorox’s case is that a message’s appropriateness and what it could possibly convey to its audience go hand-in-hand. Although Clorox was trying to stay timely with its message and had no intention of suggesting that these new emojis should be bleached white, many Twitter users viewed it that way.  Perhaps this tweet would have been appropriate if there wasn’t so much publicity surrounding the new diverse options for these emojis. Brands may not be able to satisfy everyone with their content, but testing and checking to see how a message will be received can save a brand from encountering similar controversy.

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