Talk about being slow to speak and quick to listen. In the face of a social media firestorm two weeks ago, The Amazing Race was surprisingly quiet on social media.
Hundreds of fans of the show’s Facebook page commented negatively on a segment of the March 17 episode that they found offensive. In addition, many Twitter users employed the hashtag “cbsapologize” to communicate their displeasure with the show’s content. Throughout the week of March 17, representatives of the show did not respond via social media to the criticism. Instead, their response, an apology, aired on primetime television at the beginning of the March 24 episode.
What Caused the Buzz?
The March 17 episode of The Amazing Race was set in Vietnam. Two segments of that evening’s show touched a nerve with Vietnam veterans and their loved ones. First, racers found one of their clues directly in front of a war memorial, which commemorated the wreckage of a downed American B-52. In addition, as part of the competition, contestants listened repeatedly to a communist victory song. A substantial number of viewers took issue with these elements of the program and aired their displeasure via social media.
In addition to the online reaction, The Amazing Race received a scathing letter from the Veterans of Foreign Wars shortly after the episode aired. In the letter, John Hamilton National Commander of the VFW told CBS that these scenes were “totally unnecessary to the show’s plot.”
Is the Apology Accepted?
CBS’ apology was posted on The Amazing Race’s Facebook page shortly after it aired on television. It was accepted by numerous military agencies and Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Further, many of the responses to the apology on social media were positive. However, some fans indicated that the show’s delayed response caused them to doubt the sincerity of their apology.
All’s Well that Ends Well?
By airing their apology on national television, The Amazing Race showed that it heard what people were saying about them on social media and elsewhere after the Vietnam episode. They even responded in a manner that satisfactorily answered most of the criticism the show had received. However, some damage was done to the show’s brand by their slow response. The spread of bad vibes could have been tempered if The Amazing Race had more proactively engaged with its 1.5 million fans on Facebook and its 150,000 followers on Twitter.
What do you think about the way The Amazing Race responded to this situation? Share in a comment below.