I was recently involved in a Google Hangout chat about Formula 1 teams and the usage of social media to gain tribalism in their marketing appeal and fan passion. I mentioned the Lotus F1 team in my post here and it is no surprise that today we find the team in some hot water over a tweet they posted concerning the opening of the Olympics.
Apparently the tweet featured a picture of two men kissing and wished “all athletes a successful 2014 Olympic Winter Games #Sochi2014” as a pictorial commentary about Russian’s position on LGBT causes within Russia.
Lotus F1 has been hailed as one of the best in social media circles by F1 fans for its candor and acerbic approach to F1—including a picture of two rabbits mating when Kimi Raikkonen announced his departure. If that is your kind of social media flavor, fair enough but as I mentioned in the chat and post here, teams should take their brand, backers, stakeholders and sponsors a little more seriously than placing the organizations voice in the hands of a 20-something.
Regardless of were your stance on human rights, civil rights and LGBT causes are, it stands to reason that the entire world may not share your position whether for or against. In the case of Lotus F1, Genii Capital (the owners) have major investments in Russia and Formula 1 itself is heading to Sochi this year so tweeting commentary meant as an indictment of Russia’s position on LGTB causes isn’t something Lotus F1 needs to weigh in on.
I’ve been asking for some time when major companies will take their brand, message and voice seriously instead of placing a multi-billion dollar organization in the hands of a person who hasn’t been alive ling enough to even know what the nuance of lasting global marketing brand impact is.
According to BBC’s Andrew Benson, Lotus F1 deleted it and said the tweet was unauthorized. I’m not sure what that means other than your social media person has an opinion about Russia’s position on gay rights and thought they would share that with the world via their role at Lotus F1. I’m sure lotus F1’s new sponsor, Russian mobile phone company Yotaphone, will understand. I’m sure the 10% stake in Lotus F1 that the parent company, Yota Devices, will completely understand as well.
But what if they don’t?
Maybe it was a mistake. Perhaps the social media person has Hootsuite and posted the tweet but had the wrong account selected when the hit “enter”. I’m willing to understand but in the end, teams must use better judgment, measurement and strategy than this.
There are ways to manage this from a pre-, on- and post event strategy so things like this don’t jeopardize the organizations brand—I’m stumped as to why Lotus F1 isn’t using them.