There’s often a fine line between hysterical and tasteless. And where that line is drawn depends upon who you ask.
Yesterday, the big-box electronics store Best Buy sent a tweet joking about NPR’s podcast Serial. The 12-episode podcast, which is nearing its conclusion, has attracted an almost cult-like following with obsessive online engagement that has content publishers and advertisers taking notice.
The tweet read: “We have everything you need. Unless what you need is a payphone. #Serial.”
Fans of the series will understand the reference immediately, but for others, there’s a bit of a backstory here. Serial follows a reporter’s journey in re-investigating a murder case from more than a decade ago. The man who was found guilty for the murder at the center of the case, Adnan Syed, is currently serving a life sentence.
When the case was initially brought to court in 1999, the state of Maryland’s key witness -- a man referred to only as “Jay” in the podcast -- claims that Syed called him from a pay phone outside of a local Best Buy after committing the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. In the Serial podcast investigation, the very existence of this payphone has come into question. Some listeners have even gone to the alleged Best Buy to check it out for themselves.
The tweet was met with a wave of criticism, with many saying it was utterly insensitive.
Hours after sending it, Best Buy removed the tweet and issued an apology: “We deeply apologize for our earlier tweet about Serial. It lacked good judgment and doesn’t reflect the values of our company. We are sorry.”
But some question whether Best Buy had to apologize at all, saying it was an unnecessary and overly sensitive move by the Best Buy marketing team.
@BestBuy it was clever. People are being hypocritical. 5 million detectives picking it apart like its a lifetime movie without a 2nd thought— Eb (@ebonyinthecity) December 11, 2014
Hey @BestBuy social media manager, sorry about your uptight boss. You were fine.— Chanelle Leslie (@thisischanelle) December 11, 2014
So, what do you think? Was Best Buy offensive? Or was Best Buy being a bit too “PC” in deleting its first tweet and making an apology for the joke? Leave a response below or tweet at us and let us know.