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Businesses’ faux pas around the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll

Greg Devine

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Following Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s sad passing, social media teams around the country have struggled to convey the correct message to their customers. In marketing lingo, content is king, and the death of The Queen is certainly a relevant topic. The problem is, it’s a very sensitive topic, and not every company is getting it right.


Ann Summers Logo

Ann Summers, the lingerie and sex toy retailer, chose to honour The Queen on their Twitter feed. A photo of the monarch was posted, accompanied by a caption saying, ‘Thank you, Ma'am, for everything - for women, for family, for our nation. Sleep well’. There’s nothing wrong with this; however, the tribute posted on their website was much less thought out.


A photo of The Queen with the caption ‘Thank you, your Majesty’ was placed above images of women in provocative underwear and sex toys. I’m not sure a photo of The Queen holds the same chasteness, temperance and virtue when it’s on the same screen as a dildo, a strap-on and a vibrator. I believe these images should have been kept very far apart from each other.


Dale Vince, founder of electricity company ‘Ecotricity’ and chairman of League One side Forest Green Rovers, also posted a tribute to The Queen on Twitter. It wasn’t a wise move to photoshop the image so that she was wearing the Forest Green Rovers’ shirt, nor post this alongside the following informal message: ‘Thanks, Liz’. The comments below his tweet told Dale just how tacky people though his tribute was. It’s not as if Dale is an anti-monarchist—he has an OBE. In response to the backlash, he said that the Queen had ‘a good sense of humour—unlike some’, referring to the people angrily posting their thoughts on the social media platform. I must admit, I didn’t find his tweet funny, though I did think it was shocking. Not in the sense that it was distasteful (though it absolutely was); I was actually more in shock that someone could ever think that post was a good idea.


Photomosaic image of Queen Elizabeth II at Gatwick airport, London, UK

My TikTok feed is currently full of the royals. I get constant clips of Netflix’s The Crown, even though I’ve watched the same scenes many times before. There are scores of random teenagers who claim to be royal historians as they explain the history and rules of the monarchy and pay tribute to The Queen and Prince Philip’s relationship. I can’t get them off my TikTok ‘for you’ page. I do wonder if this is just down to TikTok’s algorithm, as I have liked a few posts of this nature, or whether TikTok is pushing posts about the royals during this period of national mourning.


Since the Queen’s death, radio stations have been playing sombre music. Some of their choices seem far off the mark, however. On the day of her death, we had ‘Greatest Hits’ on in the car (which used to be Rother FM). I personally didn’t feel that Spandau Ballet’s ‘True’ portrayed the correct mood, considering the Queen’s death had been announced within the hour—the other songs played seemed more sombre, whereas ‘True’ felt like a party number. Most stations seem to have gone back to their normal playlists, apart from Capital FM. BBC Radio 1, from what I can tell, appears to have returned to its normal programming—maybe with a light edit to ensure no song is too insensitive…but not Capital FM. Capital is owned by Global, a private company, so you’d have thought its playlist would have returned to normal, but the tunes they’re currently playing are simply depressing.


Trevor Sinclair probably made the worst social media faux pas. Hours after the Queen’s death he posted on Twitter, ‘Racism was outlawed in England in the 60s and it’s been allowed to thrive, so why should black and brown mourn?!’ Whether his tweet is correct or not isn’t for me to decide; his timing, however, was awful. His main employer, TalkSport, has taken him off the air for the time being until an investigation is carried out. The day after his ill-timed tweet, he again added a post to the platform—this time, in apology. He said, he was sorry ‘for any offence caused to those mourning The Queen’. The day after, he posted again, saying. ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s finding the strength to get back up and go again 🙏🏾 #MentalHealthAwareness’. This also didn’t go down well, as people felt he used mental health in justification of his actions, and as a way out of the backlash his original tweets received.


We are living in unprecedented times right now. It seems that, just as the world is reaching peak craziness, what with wars and the cost-of-living crisis, another curve ball has been thrown at us. In the bigger picture, achieving the right tone for your social media posts may not be the most important issue at the moment, but Twitter is a no-man’s land in which you must tread carefully. Get a post wrong, and the backlash you could see may be substantial.