SpaghettiOs Apologizes For Offensive Pearl Harbor Day Tweet

Suffice to say, asking Americans to remember one of the worst attacks on their country by a foreign power by sharing a picture of a giant, smiling piece of pasta waving an American flag probably wasn’t wise. But that’s what SpaghettiOs — the canned spaghetti product from Campbell Soup Company — did on Twitter. Twelve hours after posting it, and in response to negative reaction, the brand pulled the tweet.

The company posted an apology early on December 7 — Pearl Harbor Day — saying that “We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.”

The tweet that SpaghettiOs acknowledged being offensive was also removed. It went out on the evening of December 6, asking people to “Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us,” along with this picture:


At the time we originally posted this story (2:23am ET), the tweet had nearly 3,000 retweets and just over 1,000 favorites. Those stats probably shouldn’t be taken as sign of popularity but rather shock or disgust, judging from some of the comments in reaction to the tweet, including:

Comedian Patton Oswalt, with 1.5 million Twitter followers, shared a number of tweets mocking the SpaghettiOs one, including:

Not all the comments I read in reaction were bad (see some yourself with this search on Twitter). A few even felt those expressing outrage were overreacting. It’s hard to judge what the overall sentiment was. But I wouldn’t say it was positive, and I thought the tweet might get pulled because of it, as I wrote in the first edition of this story. Looks like that was the case.

By the way, earlier this week another Campbell’s brand – Pace Salsa – seemed caught up in a Twitter fiasco. However, that was a prank between two comedians involving a fake account, so it wasn’t down to Campbell’s at all.

Postscript: This story has been updated to reflect the apology and the original tweet being pulled. Also, in the first edition of the story, we wrote that Campbell’s had acknowledged the tweet to be a mistake. This was based on a tweet from Adam Kmiec, who tweeted, “I find it fascinating and sad how the social media community turns on their own, when a brand makes a mistake. Don’t throw stones…”

Kmiec, who we profiled recently, was head of social media marketing for Campbell’s. However, he tweeted today that he no longer works at Campbell’s, implying also that he didn’t at the time of the SpaghettiO tweet yesterday. He appears to have left some time between December 3 and December 6, since as of December 2, he tweeted as still being part of Campbell’s. We did email him after our story first went up but received no response.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Top News | Twitter


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • disqus_Bvk0rMk5Qc

    You might want to proofread your article a little better next time. Found at least three typos that made it more difficult to read.

  • dba_vagabond_trader

    Good grief, it was a sincere rememberance, maybe a tiny bit off kilter for hypersensitive souls, tho certainly not malevolent and at least SOMEONE knows their history anymore.

    Unlike Google.

  • Harry Hawk

    Their graphics didn’t match the somber nature and significant gravitas of the event… but the core of the graphic, a PRO American O isn’t offensive. One might guess they were really trying to say, in the face of Pearl Harbor attack let’s be proud to be Americans; let’s celebrate American resilience; if that was there intent it has clearly failed.

    I think the biggest aspect of this failure is Semiotic and the failure to see how their “proud American O” didn’t appropriately fit this tragic day of infamy…

  • jaunts

    People on twitter are “turning on their own” just because the folks who made the offensive tweet are also on twitter? Are we supposed to be obligated to support every marketing team that posts things on twitter (i.e., every marketing team)?

  • ocdetf

    What do you expect from a bunch of 20/30 year old ad executives who have no earthly idea what Pearl Harbor (or World War II for that matter) was all about?

  • Hooter

    I see nothing wrong with this…Campbell’s is a great American company. Campbell’s had gone to war with America providing products and production during WWII. I served years at sea on various warships, and in the ships store stocked products such as this for the crew…. Many a care package sent from home to sailors overseas would have treats such as this, a taste from home, something to share with your shipmates. Nothing wrong with mascot waving the American flag either. Only ones complaining never had the guts to put on the uniform themselves….

  • Hooter

    No that’s the problem with the whole god damn country today, to many business degree types who are managers, not leaders… Admiral Hopper warned about this back in the 1950′s…

  • keaner

    and shared none of them so they can fix it. good job! :)

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