Guy Who Lost Job Over Chrysler Tweet Speaks Up

Guy Who Lost Job Over Chrysler Tweet Speaks Up

By: Shelly Kramer
March 17, 2011

Last week, an employee of New Media Strategies, the firm who handled the Chrysler social media account, accidentally tweeted from the Chrysler account during his morning commute and dropped the F-bomb.

Chrysler F*Bomb Tweet

That tweet ultimately led to him not only being fired, but to the agency handling the account being handed their walking papers as well.

Gini Dietrich wrote a terrific blog post about the Chrysler tweet and in it, shared one of her early mistakes – and how much she learned from that incident. That post made me reflect on my own early agency days and a huge mistake made by a friend. He was supposed to have shipped something via FedEx and forgot. However, when asked about it, he didn’t think it through enough and quickly replied that he had, in fact, shipped the package as instructed.

Well, as anyone knows, FedEx records are easily trackable – and in just a short amount of time, it was widely known that he lied. That action impacted his reputation and credibility enormously. In fact, he didn’t last long at the agency after that happened and there was always a bit of a cloud associated with his name as a result of that one misstep. I always felt sorry for him, as he was a great guy and he made a mistake. And I’m sure he learned a lot from that experience.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all human and we ALL make mistakes. Regularly.

Here’s a video, originally shared by my friend Scott Baradell (whose blog you would do well to be reading on a regular basis), that really puts a human face on the man known everywhere as “the guy who dropped the F-bomb from Chrysler’s Twitter account and got canned as a result.”  His name is Scott Bartosiewicz and he’s a Detroit native.

My original take on the situation was pretty harsh. I understood the reason NMS fired Scott and I could kind of justify the wake up call that Chrysler had about taking this business elsewhere – or maybe even in house – and giving NMS their walking papers.

But after thinking about it for a week or so, I’m not sure I still agree. In fact, there’s a great read from Jalopnik’s Ray Wert that brings up a good point:

But what this comes down to is that this was a mistake by a human being, not a deliberate action. And Scott seems like a pretty good guy. Contrast that with this one minute and 30 second video compiling every swear word uttered by Chrysler’s latest spokesperson, Eminem, a man who has turned misogyny into a profession, on just one album. You tell me, which kid from metro Detroit deserved to be fired – Eminem or Bartosiewicz?

Oh, and here’s the Eminem video, which is pretty priceless, too.

It’s a Matter of Trust – And Humanity

Bottom line, as an agency owner who regularly handles social media for clients, I’m very much aware of the trust that has been placed in our collective hands. And I take it seriously. But I’m also a human. And I realize that mistakes will happen – lord knows I’ve made my own share of them as I’ve climbed up the career (and life) ladder.

I’m relatively sure that if this kind of thing happened in our house, that I wouldn’t fire the employee who goofed — even if it meant losing the client business. Because, to me, it just seems like the right thing to do is to understand that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, and to treat people accordingly. And, for the record, in my book, the brand that can stand up and say “It happened, that stinks, but we’re all human. Let’s move on” seems like a pretty amazing brand. Kind of like how the Red Cross handled a similar situation recently. That kind of brand – well, it’s a human one – and one that I’d like to buy stuff from or support.

From my point of view, a Detroit based company putting a bunch of people out of work as the result of a poorly placed curse word seems not at all in line with the brand image of the Motor City and the people in it.

At least that’s the way it seems to me. You?

  • This one is just so complicated and complex. I think we can all relate to Scott on some level. We’ve all made mistakes. The difference for me is that my mistakes weren’t broadcast to the world, across the twittersphere, or used as a point of public discourse. For me and my generation, we made our mistakes, felt the pain, and like you said, moved on. Sure, a few of our immediate friends or colleagues may have known about it, but in the end, it was our burden to bear or discard. Scott doesn’t have that luxury.

    Like it or not, we are operating in a very public world – especially if you are a social media manager. I manage twitter accounts for clients and an inadvertent tweet can happen. The fact that they shouldn’t is irrelevant. They do. It’s what you do about it that counts. {I really like Joshua Titsworth’s idea of having a separate management system for my personal so that the business/client tweets don’t even have a chance to co-mingle.} I agree with Gini Dietrich in that it’s ideal for the social media management to exist in-house, but that’s just not always the case, at least not for the smaller companies that I work with. And like you, Shelly, I take these responsibilities very seriously and make sure my staff does as well. We represent the company on and offline; act appropriately.

    In the end, I think it was a bad move for Chrysler to punish NMS for something that their very public spokesperson does on a regular basis. They had/have a golden opportunity to turn this around and work with NMS to bring the social in-house, highlight the situation as a ‘we’ve really learned from our mistakes and this is how’ scenario, and keep the local workforce employed. Unfortunately, they chose to act in a ‘let’s get rid of this right away’ approach. Wonder how that’s playing out locally for them?

  • Shelly,

    Even though I do feel bad for the guy, in my opinion, there are certain mistakes that a professional should not make. I am sure, he is a nice guy and, perhaps, should re-think his practice of tweeting while distracted. Especially, if he manages clients’ accounts.

    As far as Chrysler – they are footing the bill. They can decide that Eminem’s language is beneficial to an ad campaign. And they can decide that a mistake by an agency that manages their Twitter account has hurt their brand. I am sure they were paying a pretty penny for the service and pretty sure they had certain expectations. The story is unfortunate, but at least the guy is taking responsibility for his mistake. That shows character.

  • writingprincess

    More whining from the generation who gets everything and has to work for nothing. Your job is social media, not brain surgery! In the end it’s a job and just because you Tweet from the throne in your bathroom in your personal life, doesn’t make it less professional when you step out into the real world.
    Yes people make mistakes but in a world filled with morons with 6-figure salaries I find it difficult to find sympathy and compassion for people who arguably do not have a difficult job – they’re not curing cancer or eliminating the black/white achievement gap – being fired for doing something stupid. But is it the end of the world? No, it never is for the privileged generation. He will find another job, for another corporation Tweeting more corporate bile. I hope he doesn’t and takes a trip to inner city Detroit and try to fix poor education standards instead. Now that would be a happy ending.
    And yes I find it ironic that we taxpayers paid Eminem, and Scott and all the agencies that work for Chrysler for a dying company that should have just had its funeral and left us all in peace.

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  • Alex

    Try harder. LOL

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  • tonyjones

    It was posted “via the web.” This was not accidental and was not posted via Tweetdeck. Regardless of how sane he sounds, he made the error and it cost his former company the account. His seeking a lawsuit against Tweetdeck is laughable, his former employers should sue out of the social media business and he can go flip burgers for the rest of his life.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, Tony. I don’t see how this “web glitch” happened – and to blame TweetDeck … lame.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, so your comment made me guffaw. It made me want to ask “So, what do you REALLY think?” (which is a question I am often asked as well). Love it!

  • Anonymous

    I like him taking responsibility, Lyena, I don’t like the fact that he may be lying and trying to pass off the blame on TweetDeck. That annoys me. I still think that Chrysler shouldn’t have fired the agency, but I also believe that the fact that they did, probably says there were bigger things afoot than just this one incident.

  • Anonymous

    What a well-thought out response, Erica. And I’m with you, on all fronts. How easy it would have been for Chrysler to turn this around. In fact, even NMS should be doing something to combat the image that they no doubt hire people who don’t know what they’re doing. Great chance to make lemonade out of lemons, don’t you think??

  • Anonymous

    Alexis, I’m with you. I don’t believe in tossing around the F*bomb and don’t do it in social media outlets for just that reason. I want my clients to always be able to count on me and I think it’s easy to forget – and slip up.

    It will be interesting, for sure, to see how the rest of this situation plays out.

  • Anonymous

    Oh Jenn, that’s brilliant. Yes, a missed opportunity for Chrysler to capitalize on this. Who knows, maybe they still will. But such a harsh move, I’m just not sure it was warranted. Unless he lied – then it was.

  • I always enjoy a good lemonade story! Thanks for continuing the discussion here on your blog and for highlighting yet another side to the situation. Enjoy your weekend!

  • Interesting video. This is the first I heard that the guy is blaming TweetDeck. And suing them, too?

    If I were managing a huge account like that, I would NEVER send a personal tweet that was anything less than 100% professional. Never. Whether the accident was mad-made or technical, I would just never behave in any way that didn’t put my client in the best possible light.

    As far as accidents go, that one was pretty big. I wouldn’t want someone with such a lack of good judgment on my team. But, yeah, I do agree with Gini. Frankly, I don’t think any company should farm out their social media. In-house people have more invested in a business’s success and image.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks so much for showing up and taking part in the conversation. Always classy for a brand to do – and much appreciated.

    And I think that as we’ve all seen in the comments here, we all agree with you – social media is, most definitely, an interesting “beast” – and we’re all learning, evolving and often even creating our own respective “best practices” on the fly.

    As I’ve indicated, my initial reaction was that the best action was exactly what transpired. Then I softened a little and that’s evidenced in this post. However (and this is before reading your links above), if there’s a chance that Scott was dishonest about the “Tweetdeck glitch” and many here believe so, the common feeling is to toss him back under the bus. Compassion for an honest mistake isn’t hard to come by, compassion for a liar is hard – almost impossible – to justify.

    Thanks again for coming by and participating … I’m of course interested in the links you referenced above and am now heading off to read.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. The whole situation is weird. It will be interesting when (or if) the truth comes out!

  • If Chrysler had stopped and thought about it for a second, they could have used it to their advantage. Maybe gone with a campaign of real cars for real people….who hate traffic too. LOL

  • Anonymous

    You said it, Amber. I have lots of clients who “farm out” their social media to us and trust that we’ll do a good job. And we do. In fact, we might even have more invested in the businesses’ success and image because of it, because we’re uber aware of how great the trust they’ve placed in us is. And we also know we’re on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As such, I’d say we’re pretty invested in their success and image.

  • I guess, perhaps, I generalized a wee too much. When I talk about farming out, I’m thinking more of a large agency that says they do social media, yet just gives the responsibilities to a rookie.

    Independent consultants, such as myself, live and breathe this stuff. And, of course, folks like you are rockstars and can be trusted implicitly. 🙂

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Imagine how cool that might’ve been, John.

  • Shelly, props well deserved. Keep up the good writing. Solid stuff.

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