Can you think back to a moment in time when there wasn’t a boycott or trending hashtag calling out a brand or public figure? We can’t either. Unfortunately, that’s how ingrained call-out culture is in our media landscape.
Although there’s no formal definition of call-out culture, call-out culture is really quite simple: someone does something wrong, a person or persons tell them about it, and they avoid doing it in the future. It really should be that simple. But, alas, few things are that simple on social media.
Given the anonymity of social media, call-out culture can be very hostile online. Users can unleash extremely harsh criticism at a person or a brand and very literally hide behind a profile – as stated in this very pointed NYT op-ed.
For example, last October Kraft came under fire for their “Send Noods” campaign surrounding their mac and cheese noodles. Social media was up in arms about the so-called suggestive ad which very quickly disappeared.
Then there was the death of Mr. Peanut in February. The Planters Super Bowl LIV ad gone bad received endless social media backlash. Was a fictional character dying just too real? Or was it done in too close a proximity to the passing of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant? Nonetheless, call-out culture was in full effect in each above-mentioned case. And the brands both issued apologies for their respective campaigns.