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Pitchforks and Flaming Torches

Why are we surprised?

Everyone knows that as soon as a celebrity dies their albums will be promoted on iTunes, DVDs be brought to the front of store in HMV, and merchandise will pop up everywhere ‘in honour’ of the departed.

Microsoft took it a little too far last week with a rather insensitive tweet from their Xbox 360 PR team: “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking Back to Black over at Zune.”

Oh dear. The backlash ensued, and Microsoft was swiftly tarred and feathered – branded ‘classless’ ‘crass’ ‘vile rats’ and everything in between.

The team quickly issued an apology which read: “Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you.”

“With Amy W’s passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

Responses to the apology fanned the flames and the Twitter rage smoulders on still.

For a company as huge as Microsoft it is merely a temporary smudge on the corporation’s massive reputation. For a smaller company it could be catastrophic.

Companies need to recognise the colossal power that Twitter holds – heed the KingMaker or face the pitchforks and flaming torches!

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