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Red Lobster a fish out of water on social media, but did it work after all?


Red Lobster a fish out of water on social media, but did it work after all?

American seafood restaurant Red Lobster was presented with an opportunity to rule the social media roost after being name-dropped during Beyoncé’s performance at last Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, but while the singer’s performance was typically raunchy and risqué, the restaurant’s Twitter response was more like lukewarm bisque than prime Lobster Thermidor.

During a performance of new single ‘Formation’ during the half-time entertainment, as well as repeated claims that she ‘slays’ (whatever that means), careful listeners noted that the R&B star gave a shout out to the Florida-headquartered restaurant chain. You can check out the lyrics here and the video below, although it’s probably best not to if you’re in work or don’t like naughty words!

Given that the Super Bowl was watched by a peak of 115.5m viewers worldwide, it’s little surprise that Google searches for the restaurant have soared since Sunday.

Google Trends

In tandem with this, plenty of Super Bowl viewers eagerly waited for Red Lobster’s Twitter account to ‘mussel’ in on the fun. After all, Beyoncé had done all the hard work and set things up nicely, so all Red Lobster had to do was walk the ball into the end zone and touchdown. Instead, they dilly-dallied and ended up doing whatever the American football equivalent of missing an open goal is.

A lousy pun based on the nickname ‘Bey’ was the best the chain could come up with, and hours after the event as well. When the ‘damp squid’ Red Lobster had served up was pointed out by Twitter users, the chain spluttered its apologies and jokingly tried to put it down to a surge in business leaving little time for social media – a ‘shellfish’ excuse if ever I’ve heard one.

Busy indeed! As Red Lobster should know, a national chain should have a dedicated social media team that can get onto these things as they happen. Especially with this taking place during the restaurant’s opening hours, there’s certainly no excuse for a sluggish response to what should’ve been a windfall for them.

Still, despite the crabby response, and the chain’s all-round Twitter lethargy, Red Lobster did enjoy a 33% sales rise last Sunday compared to the same weekend in 2015. One could also take the “no publicity is bad publicity” line and point out that the episode has generated interest in the chain and brought it to the attention of people like me, who have no interest in the Super Bowl and had never heard of Red Lobster.

Even so, bigwigs at the seafood eatery are sure to see this as the one that got away, and might review the way they manage their social media. We would have gone for something along these lines:

“Dear @Beyonce, just confirming your reservation for February 15th, 16th and 17th?” #Formation #SuperBowl50”

That’s a bit more topical, witty and subtly ‘adult’ than the chain’s cheesy ‘Cheddar Bey’ tweet, which frankly took the biscuit.

John Murray

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