If you’ve been on Twitter this week, you may have heard rumblings about Cinnamon Toast Crunch and shrimp tails. A comedian with a significant following took to twitter claiming that his box of cereal contained cinnamon-covered shrimp tails, which quickly went viral. The General Mills brand’s incorrect response can be seen as a learning moment for social media and communications practitioners.
On March 22, Jensen Karp tweeted a photograph of what appeared to be shrimp tails with a sugary coating, tagging Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and insisting it wasn’t a comedic bit. The commentary didn’t stop there, as he continued to tweet about the discovery, explaining that it was an issue of “food safety and quality”.
General Mills reacted by reaching out through the Cinnamon Toast Crunch twitter account offering a replacement. After talking privately, Karp politely declined a replacement. Cinnamon Toast Crunch then issued a public statement saying that the alleged shrimp tails were “an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended” and that “there is no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.”
Karp was not happy with this response, asserting that he was being “gaslit” by the cereal brand, and that he in fact had cinnamon coated tails. Now, most of Twitter has a front row seat in a showdown over shrimp.
In a report from Brandwatch, unique mentions on Twitter about Cinnamon Toast Crunch jumped from less than 1,000 a day to nearly 91,000 by March 23rd, just a day after Karp’s tweet. Many eyes were on this face-off between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Karp. The popularity and conversation around the spat only grew each day.
As students of communications, it’s important to look at this exchange and find ways General Mills could have alleviated the situation and left Karp with a more positive brand perception.
How would you handle this situation as a social media practitioner? Let us know at @txadpr.