Burger King Pulled Pricey Twitter Ad When Robin Williams News Broke

Real-time reaction to Hollywood tragedy

Headshot of Christopher Heine

When Robin Williams' sudden passing began circulating in social media early Monday evening, Burger King marketers quickly placed a call to Twitter headquarters to pull a Promoted Trend. The national ad, which typically costs more than $200,000 a day, was part of a larger endeavor to promote the quick-serve brand's chicken fries product.

A BK rep told Adweek via email that the move was "out of respect for Robin Williams and his fans."

Shortly after 7 p.m. ET on Monday, hashtags such as #RIPRobinWilliams and #Mork became national trends. Burger King didn't take long to decide that advertising fried poultry around such a sad conversation made for bad marketing.

Separately, the racially tinged clash between protesters and police officers in Ferguson, Mo., was also beginning to trend on Twitter. It's unclear whether BK was reacting to that offline reality as well, but it seemed pretty obvious that it was a tough overall night for social media marketing.

San Francisco-based Twitter wouldn't declare whether any Promoted Trends had been pulled in the past due to human tragedy, but it seems unlikely. 

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.
Publish date: August 12, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/burger-king-pulled-expensive-twitter-ad-when-robin-williams-news-broke-159467/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT