Social media companies thrive on attention. So when something somewhat scandalous happens one has to wonder if it was intentional or a major and massive oversight. Tuesday was Women’s Day around the globe, so Snapchat decided to get in on the action by adding popular filters to images of well-known female figures.
What’s so bad about that? The filters used caused a lot of eyebrows to pop. Some called the move distasteful while others brought up race issues. Here’s what happened.
Not Leaving Well Enough Alone
Snapchat’s marketing team took images of Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, and various other female icons and added filters to them. In the process, Kahlo’s skin became whiter or brighter, Marie Curie had makeup and false eyelashes (she was somewhat famous for never wearing makeup), and various other female figures appeared with flowers in their hair and large doe eyes - all the filters that make Snapchat so popular.
But whitening or brightening someone’s skin and applying makeup to an otherwise natural photograph don’t necessarily bring forth the strongest qualities that women have to offer. Women are not about looking prettier, as the filters and changes seemed to imply. As one might imagine, this caused some women to feel frustrated with social media company.
Why They Did It
The thought behind the social media plan might have been a good one. Snapchat thought that it would take recognizable photographs and add fun filters to them - what’s the harm, right? But when you’re putting these images out into the world via Twitter and through Snapchat, you can expect some criticism. Criticism is what Snapchat got, too.
A Careful Social Balance
To be fair, few companies really did Women’s Day right. I saw a lot of companies attempt to honor women on social networks, but few of them really did it the right way. Some companies posted thoughts on women while others offered things like pink t-shirts and cupcakes with pink frosting. Memes were also a popular choice.
So while Snapchat managed to showcase some of the app’s popular filters with the ode to women, the company also managed to isolate and anger quite a few women in the process.
Doing It Right
So how does a company participate in an event like Women’s Day without offending anyone? Carefully. Of course, Snapchat did bring some attention the the app (there aren’t any public numbers related to whether or not sign-ups increased during this recent fiasco or not, but I’m betting a few people that did not have Snapchat signed up while some - probably fewer - erased accounts).
Whether or not it’s a good idea to try and drive publicity through controversy is a question that marketers have been trying to answer for many decades now. In some cases, it works. In other cases, it simply offends.
What will Snapchat do for the next holiday or Internet event? Will the company decide to push the limit once again, or will Snapchat’s marketing team reel things back this time around? Keep your eye on this popular social network in order to see what Snapchat thinks of next.