Cinnabon’s Catastrophic Carrie Fisher Tweet: A lesson in avoiding social media backlash.


Anyone who is on social media – aka 78% of the U.S. population, according to Statista – probably knows that Cinnabon made a major misstep on Twitter when Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27th, 2016.

Screenshot of Cinnabon’s Carrie Fisher tweet, which has since been removed from the company’s Twitter account. 

In case you missed it, a lovely piece of art was made using a Cinnabon cinnamon roll and cinnamon, to create the profile of Princess Leia, and tweeted with the caption “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.” This was met with major backlash from social media users on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere on the interwebs.

PR Daily published a great article to help marketing communicators avoid a blunder such as this on January 9, 2017 which detailed four lessons learned:

  1. Timing is everything.
  2. Make sure your team has proper training.
  3. Heed lessons from other brand managers’ missteps.
  4. Even small errors can be blown out of proportion online.

Nowadays, people have this need to be the first to tweet, the first to post to Reddit, the first to have a meaningful Facebook post on the topic, etc. In that rush, it’s possible to make a social media misstep without even realizing it until the backlash is hitting you in the face. If Cinnabon’s marketing team had thought before they tweeted and taken more time for review, they may have realized that this attempt at humor would not be well received the day of Fisher’s death.

This rush to say something first can cause serious issues on its own, but especially if the social media team does not have the training and experience necessary to really navigate social media communications as part of the organization’s marketing efforts. If the person at the Cinnabon Twitter helm on Dec. 27th had a suitable amount of training and experience, the issue could have either been nipped in the bud or the backlash could have been more effectively managed.

In any industry or job function research is paramount, but even more so within social media marketing. Integrated marketing communications (IMC) requires by definition that a consistent message be communicated via different media. Social media is all about users sharing their opinion, which directly affects how a brand is seen by their consumers. Simply keeping up on recent business and marketing news can help you avoid a social media blunder that could potentially affect your brand in a seriously negative way.

The fourth point in this article is almost a given: even small things get blown out of proportion on the internet. In general, humans have a psychological tendency to jump on the bandwagon with others. Social media only exacerbates this tendency because so many people are connected via these websites and want to throw in their own comment and show that they are part of whatever that “movement” is. This is why it is so extremely important to fully review your content before you click post, tweet, or whatever image represents publication.

Once the message is out there, you can’t get it back. This notion is so much truer now for professional communicators than it was before the digital media boom. All four points in the PR Daily article come together to show us that the social media realm is a huge piece of what marketers need to be focusing on, but that we need to be doing so carefully, not carelessly.

IMC requires that a consistent message be sent out via different media. Having a presence on social media is extremely important in today’s digital world and is especially important for marketing, but consumers receive messages very differently than they would from any other medium.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s