This week's communications hits and misses

Take a leaf out of these marketer's playbooks or learn from their failures.

Campaigns often have to go through stages of planning, pitching and approving--even down to the smallest social media post. PR pros know what's on the line. With the speed of a tweet, a brand can go viral or get cancelled.  

These communications hits and misses display why it's often best to include various viewpoints, remember how varied stakeholders can be and learn how to read a room. 

Miss: Warner Bros. The Witches sparks backlash from those with disabilities

In the new version of The Witches, Anne Hathaway's villainous character, known as the Grand High Witch, has missing fingers. People with disabilities said it looks like she has Ectrodactyly, a limb abnormality, and advocates fear that giving villains physical defects can perpetuate stereotypes that disabilities are abnormal or scary.

Paralympic athlete Amy Marren said she was "disappointed," and the official Paralympic Games Twitter account noted, "Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalized."

Following the criticism, Warner Bros. apologized. In a statement, the studio said it "regretted any offense caused."

“In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book,” a spokesperson for Warner Bros. said in a statement. “It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme.”

The Warner Bros. fumble is a stark example of why building teams with varying abilities, races and backgrounds can create a more inclusive narrative.

Hit: Pittsburgh Steelers buy dinner for Allegheny County election officials

Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization sent dinner to the Allegheny County election workers Wednesday, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Election staff are working around the clock to process thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots to determine the outcome of the presidential election.

A worker with Cooked Goose Catering Company arrived around 7:30 p.m. with eight pies, stuffed chicken breasts, rigatoni pasta, vegetables and dinner rolls. 

Of course, no Steelers were present at the warehouse to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, but linebacker Vince Williams tweeted his support.

Doing good for the community outside of football was a sentiment echoed by Dallas Cowboys’ EVP and chief brand officer Charlotte Jones during a PRDecoded panel in October.

"A football team's brand, that tradition, that authenticity of what the team meant to people, was the most valuable thing we have," Jones said.

Miss: GameStop holds a TikTok challenge that rewards employees with more time to work

GameStop has come under fire for holding a strange TikTok challenge during its annual employee conference. Employees that make the best dance video earn their store the privilege of letting employees work extra hours during Black Friday.

The contest encouraged "store leaders" to record themselves dancing to the viral TikTok dance #redwinechallenge.

The winner would have won two Amazon Echo devices, a $100 Visa gift card and "10 additional labor hours." 

The contest has since been pulled from the company's website, and GameStop did not respond to PRWeek's request for comment 

A company offering "labor hours" as a prize is not a good look and begs the question: Why are stores are understaffed enough on Black Friday to warrant the extra help?

Hit: Arby's gets into ransom war with TikTok user

Arby's has engaged in a good-natured ransom war over a TV menu after TikTok user h1t1 shared a video claiming he had purchased it by mistake.

@h1t1

oh no

? h1t1 sound - h

The video has been viewed more than 15 million times and has drawn the attention of the fast food chain as it attempts to strike a deal to have the missing menu returned.

“We love the creativity that platforms like TikTok give creators, and when we came across this content, we saw it as a chance to have a little fun with a self-proclaimed 'Arby’s stan for life,'” said Jimmy Beck, digital and social media supervisor at Arby's. 

Engaging with the TikTok user has kept the fast food restaurant "in on the joke," giving it a way to engage with the younger generation so prevalent on the platform. 

Miss: Gap deletes political hoodie tweet after backlash

The morning after Election Day, Gap tweeted a picture of a red and white Gap hoodie and what it thought was a message of unity.

The one thing we know, is that together, we can move forward, Gap tweeted on Wednesday morning.

The brand deleted the tweet soon after it was met with backlash from social media users calling it tone deaf.

Great learning exercise for marketers," tweeted one user. "This moment in time where our country is incredibly divided is not in any way an 'opportunity' for content.

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