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January 21, 2015
Of Trivial Gaffes
 
We watched the State of the Union last night, and President Obama talked about the state of political media and how they love to catch politicians when they do, as POTUS called it, "trivial gaffes," meaning mistakes that in all reality mean very little.

President Obama was insisting that people should look at the actual content of the discussion versus the mistake the politician made. Look over it in order to see the real stuff.

If only that sentiment could be shared with the marketing community.

As Washington faces its constant critics and all-seeing eyes, AdLand faces the same kind of needless scrutiny. The perfect example comes from a minor "gaffe" the Seattle Seahawks social media team did during MLK Jr.'s birthday.

Background: During the NFC Championship game, the Seattle Seahawks were getting worked by the Green Bay Packers. It looked like the game was the Packers' to lose. Turned out, it was. Come the fourth quarter, Seattle came from a double-digit deficit to lead Green Bay. Green Bay forced overtime. At Seattle's first possession, they scored a touchdown to end the game. It was a wild ending, and it made Seattle the first team since 2004 to make it back to the Super Bowl after winning the previous year.

Issue: On MLK Jr.'s birthday, Seattle tweeted a picture of Russell Wilson and a quote from MLK, as well as another tweet talking about "they shall overcome." The team was talking about all the doubt and doom and gloom the press and everyone else laid on the organization about getting back to the big stage.

Is it a huge controversy? Coming from a young black man, no, not at all.

Apparently many others — unfortunately including many of our ad bretheren — acted appalled. So many people that Seattle ended up taking the tweets down and apologizing.

Ugh.

Not long after all that transpired, writers launched themselves at the interwebs to pronounce doom (once again) on Seattle for disturbing MLK Jr.'s peace.

Honestly, we feel the outrage about it got more attention than the actual offense, because the outrage over this "trivial" matter is ridiculous. Emotions were high in Seattle, and we agree that nearly everyone counted them out. The fact that they used a relevant public figure (who happened to be black) to highlight the point shouldn't get Seattle's social media person fired.

People are too sensitive. Get over it. And Seattle, stick with your people. That's embarrassing.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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