Cheerios tone deaf Prince tribute is the latest brand faux pas

General Mills' Cheerios brand has suffered an embarrassing PR fail after its social media tribute to Prince was branded as 'shameless'.

The death of 57 year-old icon understandably shocked and saddened the world this week and, as has increasingly become the case these days with the likes of David Bowie's passing, brands attempted to place themselves within the social media conversation by paying tribute the music legend.

Cheerios however completely missed the mark with its Prince tribute on Twitter. The General Mills-owned cereal brand posted a tweet of a purple banner reading “Rest in peace”--with a Cheerio dotting the i.

The was quickly slammed by Twitter users who took issue with the apparent lack of genuine empathy in the message which came across more as a tone deaf attempt to thrust itself into the conversation.

The Minnesota-based company's expression of sadness for the loss of one of the state's most famous residents was subsequently deleted from Twitter and the company issued an apology.

“As a Minnesota brand, Cheerios wanted to acknowledge the loss of a musical legend in our hometown,” said Mike Siemienas, manager of brand media relations at General Mills, in a statement. “But we quickly decided that we didn’t want the tweet to be misinterpreted, and removed it out of respect for Prince and those mourning.”

3M also tweeted out a tribute to Prince, changing its logo to purple and adding a teardrop. It was met with a more mixed reaction compared to Cheerios move.

A number of brands have fell into the pitfalls of posting tributes of tragic events on social media. Best Buy recently had to apologies for trying to wedge itself into the conversation of hit podcast 'Serial' which made mention to the brand's Maryland store in the murder case.

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Tony Connelly

I cover media, marketing and sponsorship news within the sports industry. This includes breaking news as well as writing feature pieces with insights from experts in the sports marketing world.

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