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GM Thought of the Week – Strike Two for Snapchat, Strike Three and you’re out?

Unbelievably, I have been at Generation Media for longer than Snapchat has been in existence. Whilst I’m well-versed in the workings of the popular app, I have to admit I’m not a regular user of it – however that in itself puts me in a not-very-exclusive club also featuring Kylie Jenner. That aforementioned club recently welcomed one of the newest recruits to the Generation team, Alix Mackenzie, who gave up on the social network after this year’s update. The two of us have been discussing recent Snapchat developments across the desk this week, as Alix takes up the story…


If you are anything like me, you will remember the day the leaked photos came out of Rihanna’s face after she had been attacked by her then boyfriend Chris Brown. Now eleven years on, we are talking about Rihanna and that fateful incident once more because an advert for a app called ‘Would You Rather’ decided to make light of the situation by having the ‘Would You Rather’ question as “ Slap Rihanna or Punch Chris Brown”. The advert was posted on Snapchat.


Was this expensive mistake due to ignorance or negligence? Snapchat claims it was an error, even though the advert was reviewed…and then approved…but now has been removed as Snapchat says it violates their advertising guidelines. This mistake, along with Rihanna herself commenting on the situation on rival platform Instagram, cost Snapchat nearly 4% of their share price in just a day.  Rihanna called Snapchat out as “ignorant”, accusing them of intentionally going forward with the advert and bringing shame to domestic violence victims.


Strike One, and an 8% drop in the share price, came less than a month previously, after Kylie Jenner’s tweet about the app’s latest update. With all that has happened just this year on YouTube and now Snapchat, do we need stricter rules and regulations for adverts?  If no one is policing these adverts properly, are we to just assume that we are now no longer in control of what we are shown? Is it just a free-for-all, or do the general public and users of these networks now have to police content themselves and, by calling it out, hope that the mistakes become painful enough for these companies to start taking the issue seriously?


A stern warning from Alix and points that I couldn’t have put better myself. Whether Snapchat can survive remains to be seen, but it is certainly having a tough 2018.


Martin Doyle, Director of Digital