Blog: Petah MarianUnited Biscuits faces Twitter backlash over beatbox ad

Petah Marian | 10 May 2011

I would imagine that the PR folks at United Biscuits today must be facing a tough day today (10 May), with their McVitie's brand trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.

The biscuit manufacturer has been accused by blogger Bec Hill of stealing beatboxer Beardyman's act in its most recent Hobnobs Medley ad.

The accusation has rapidly spread across the site, with McVitie's trending earlier this morning, and the hashtag #HobRobs being employed by users to express their disappointment with the manufacturer.

Publishable tweets around the issue have included comments like:

@chris_coltrane "Beardyman makes an awesome beatboxing video. McVitie's steal his idea. Yet more thieving adland scummery: http://bit.ly/iQ92Bn#HobRobs"

@lottafizz "Boycott the jaffa cake! Evil biscuit company McVities rips off#Brighton hero Beardyman: itisa.de/kcp3io via @christt #HobRobs"

@niftydigits "Spied this over the weekend. Shameful creative ripping off of @BeardyMan by McVities - http://itisa.de/kcp3io #HobRobs (via @danhilton)"

@EbenMarks "Trying to be annoyed at McVitie's ripping off Beardyman but it's just making me want HobNobs. http://bit.ly/jnS72J"

When just-food spoke to United Biscuits earlier this morning, the company seemed blissfully unaware of the backlash it was facing.

However, a spokesperson did respond later on in the day to say that it is "aware" of the current Twitter activity and that it would be "inappropriate to comment further at this time" as it is currently looking into it.

Meanwhile, Grapevine Consulting's social media consultant Darika Ahrens believes the time is of the essence if McVitie's wants to salvage any remaining consumer goodwill.

"McVities should say something, anything, publicly (and online) while they work through this issue internally. People get more frustrated through a lack of response and information more than anything. Holding your hands up early and saying 'Ok, we hear you' can go a long way to protecting goodwill towards a brand," she said.

However, she said that she could not find a Twitter account that looked like it was being run by the brand, so McVitie's might be limited to "needing to rely on third-party media outlets to try and get their message out on Twitter - hardly ideal when you're trying to get your messaging across".

As past social media missteps have shown, consumers tend to be forgiving, but only when the brand seeks their forgiveness.


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