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After Prince’s death on April 21st, 2016 multiple companies paid tribute to him by posting on social media.  General Mills, a Minnesota based company and makers of Cheerios, posted the above tweet using the words “Rest in Peace” over a purple background with their logo dotting the I to honor their hometown music legend.  Many Prince fans responded to the tweet saying that it was using the tragic event to sell their cereal and insensitive.

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Cheerios took their tweet down shortly after they posted it. General Mills came out with a comment saying, “We quickly decided that we didn’t want the tweet to be misinterpreted, and removed it out of respect for Prince and those mourning.”

What’s the difference between what Cheerios did and this tweet by Chevrolet?

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The tweet is in reference to the 1983 hit by Prince, Little Red Corvette. One of the lyrics is, “Baby, that was much too fast” which is shown on a black backdrop above the back of a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, neither the General Motors or Chevrolet logos appear in the ad. Craig Daitch, Chevy’s advertising spokesperson said, “We didn’t want to make this piece about Chevrolet. This was a tribute to Prince and Prince Fans.”

People’s appreciation for the tasteful ad was ongoing earning Chevrolet over 15,000 shares on the post. Chevy also ran a full-page print edition in The New York Times, Minnesota Star Tribune and other papers.

On the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website it states that public relations is responsible for overseeing the content that will increase customer engagement. Brands want to stay current and be on top of the latest trends. Where is the line between being current and exploiting a public event for marketing your brand?

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