N2 Gelato forced to apologise after “racist” blackface post causes mass outrage
Monday, May 15, 2017/
An Australian ice-cream store says it has taken disciplinary action against a staff member after the brand came under fire on social media for a post that made reference to blackface.
Mumbrella reports N2 Extreme Gelato made a post on both Instagram and Facebook on Friday, advertising a new flavour of ice-cream containing charcoal. The photo shows the ice-cream held in someone’s hand, which is smeared with charcoal.
The caption accompanying the post reads: “Is it still considered blackface if it’s just on your hand???”.
“Anyway it’s just split [sic] carbon so calm yo tits with our HONEY CHARCOAL VANILLA gelato!” the caption concludes.
It wasn’t long before customers took to the comments sections to slam the brand over its “inappropriate” caption and post, labelling it both racist and sexist.
“Wow @n2australia you should probably have a sit down with whoever is in charge of your social media and give them lesson on how not to trivialise racism,” wrote one commenter on Instagram.
“This is a heinous caption. It’s offensive and trivialises a serious issue. Take it down,” wrote another.
Reacting to customers’ outrage, the company then proceeded to edit the post on Facebook, removing the part referring to blackface and replacing it with “OOPS I SPILT CARBON ON MY HAND”.
The company then edited the post three more times, fixing spelling errors and including three “laughing to the point of crying” emojis before updating the post with an apology over 24 hours later.
“HONEY CHARCOAL VANILLA gelato! [We deeply apologise for the careless and insensitive caption that was posted before this. We have taken disciplinary action against the staff in question and the staff has been suspended as well as will no longer be any social media communications role. Deepest apologies that this was posted so thoughtlessly. We will ensure tight social media scrutiny controls are put in place],” the edited post read.
The edits did not go down well with punters on social media, with commenter saying, “You can’t just change the caption and pretend it didn’t happen”.
In a statement to SmartCompany, N2 Extreme Gelato owner Min Chai confirmed the business was taking disciplinary action with the social media representative who posted the caption.
“We deeply regret not catching this quick enough and wish we had caught this before it went out. We have issued apologies through our social media network and rest assured we will be following up with tight scrutiny on our social media to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Chai said.
Both posts with amended captions are still live on the company’s Facebook and Instagram profiles.
Businesses “can’t hide” when it comes to post editing
Communications expert and founder of CP Communications Catriona Pollard says best course of action for businesses is “not to be racist in the first place”, but told SmartCompany this morning that simply editing posts when errors are made is a bad look.
“You can’t hide on Facebook when it comes to editing posts, and doing so may have well made the issue worse than just issuing an apology and deleting the post,” she says.
“If a business does something like this and it’s seeing outrage, it needs to get as much customer loyalty back quickly as possible. Delete the post and apologise to your customers and the community.”
This should have been done instantly and without question.”
Pollard believes these issues occur when there’s a disconnect between management and those in control of social media, who may see the “overall approach” to social, but not the individual posts.
“There needs to be an ongoing conversation around how social media posts in general must reflect the values of the organisation or business,” says Pollard.
“This business may have been trying to push the boundaries when it comes to humour in order to get more likes and shares, but they shouldn’t be playing along that edge.”
What some businesses don’t understand is the damage to the brand surpasses the amount of views, comment, and shares, it’s there long-term.”