Stop Un-Selling: Roseanne Uses Social Media to Create a Costly Self-Inflicted Crisis

Roseanne Barr TweetBy Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

 Un-Selling. It is the opposite of selling. It’s not good (he writes sarcastically). Stop Un-Selling, people. Stop it!

I could stop there, but today’s case study looks at ABC canceling their hugely popular television sitcom reboot of the Roseanne show, which drew upwards to 25 million viewers per week.

The Roseanne show was selling. The reboot of the sitcom was a huge moneymaker for ABC. Money was pumped into production and marketing. Huge salaries were paid to stars. Jobs were created for writers and the production staff.

Then this morning, Roseanne made the unwise decision to Tweet something racist. Yep. In a nanosecond it is all gone. Roseanne tweeted that, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby-vj.” VJ is indicated to be Valerie Jarrett, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama.

The revenue is gone. The jobs are gone.

Like many people; like many companies; this is a self-inflicted crisis. I like to call these self-inflicted crises an act of “Un-Selling.”

The world is hypersensitive. Social media fuels hypersensitivity.

Corporations can no longer defend themselves in a hypersensitive world. Admitting defeat and closing up shop is more cost-effective than fighting a controversy and the fallout associated with the crisis.

Somehow, after 12-14 years of social media, many people and companies still seem oblivious that we are at the crossroads of social media; we are at the crossroads of crisis communications; we are at the crossroads of selling.

Roseanne has always been controversial and has said many things in her comedy that offend people. When she went off of the air 21 years ago, social media didn’t exist. Heck, 21 years ago the internet and email were just making their mark.

There was a time when a network like ABC would experience a crisis like this, then hunker down with lawyers for a few days, then count how much money they would lose if the show got canceled. They would compare that number to the revenues they would earn, before making decisions. Those days are gone.

These days, decisions are swift, brutal, and costly.

Every corporation is vulnerable to Un-Selling these days. It can be from your own post. It can be due to a bad situation captured on video and shared with the world.

I can’t help but notice the irony that I’m typing these words at the very moment every Starbucks store is closed for sensitivity training because the arrest of two black men was captured in one of their stores, causing the company to lose customers. (Yes, Starbucks was Un-Selling.) It happened when United Airlines dragged a passenger off a flight. It happened when Wells Fargo created fake accounts. It happened when Facebook sold your data.

Everyone one of these is an act of Un-Selling by a company. Un-Selling requires crisis planning and crisis training.

Plan, practice, and stop Un-Selling.



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