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Wilcoxson's Ice Cream labeled "racist" after Facebook mishap: A case study by Jessica Johnson

Wilcoxson's Ice Cream labeled "racist" after Facebook mishap: A case study by Jessica Johnson

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Published by: JesJohnsonn on Feb 18, 2013
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Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream labeled “racist” over Facebook mishap
A case study by Jessica Johnson
The Social Media Disaster:
On September 21, 2012, a customer of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream politely posted aninquiry (shown below) on the company’s Facebook page. The response to this inquiry wouldlead to a mass of bad press for the small-town ice cream parlor based in Livingston, Montana.The customer, whose name was not released, stated that he was a big fan of  Wilcoxson’s and “loved” the ice cream, but voiced a concern about the ingredient of pork being in their gelatin since he was Muslim.CEO Matt Schaeffer responded to the Facebook post with “We don’t deliver outsideof Montana, certainly not Pakistan.”Schaeffer’s comment offended the customer who then posted that she lived inSheridan, Wyoming (which was clearly stated next to her name, above the post) and claimedthat she will no longer purchase from the company, nor recommend it to others. Hercomments received over 30 “likes” on Facebook, but that was the least of Schaeffer’sproblem. The comment has since resulted in a fiasco of social media for the company with
thousands of boycott threats and a severe loss of customers.
(Above) Screenshot from the Wilcoxson’s Facebook page shortly taken after the incident, found on TheBusiness Insider.
Background information:
The parlor has three locations in Montana and provides ice cream for local grocery storesand restaurant venues throughout nearly all of state, as well as northwestern Wyoming. Thecompany employs approximately 22 customers at each of the three plants, according to TheHuffington Post.Prior to this Facebook slipup, the company had rave reviews from locals and kept quiet when it came to press. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the fifth largest newspaper in Montana, throughout the company’s 100 years of business they have managedto turn down nearly all of requests for interviews from the Chronicle.Press was a feat unable to be avoided after the outraged sparked by the CEO’s socialmedia fault.
The Aftermath:
Schaeffer shut down the Wilcoxson’s Facebook page that night because of theoutrage over his comment, which was described as “racist” by Facebook posters and Reddit users. The page still remains shut down to this day.
The CEO blamed several things for his shallow mistake, including that he thought the location said “Pakistan” by the customer’s name, that it was 7 a.m. and he wasoverwhelmed with work when he read the comment and that it was an “honest mistake,” asreported by The Bozeman Chronicle. Although it is not publicly recorded how many customer’s Wilcoxson’s lost, TheBusiness Insider, as well as other news outlets like Huffington Post and NBC News report that Yelp and Reddit users quickly took to the Internet to rate the small business with one starand to refer to it as “racist ice cream.” A few days later Schaeffer offered to resign because of the bad publicity placed on thecompany that had just celebrated its 100
anniversary; however, there is no record that theCEO actually resigned.Schaeffer told NBC News that he “was wrong and should have just answered thequestion” and that he “didn’t want to be the one to bring down a 100 year company becauseof a stupid comment.”The Muslim customer’s inquiry was eventually answered by Schaeffer after the socialmedia storm had (somewhat) passed, the answer being that the gelatin used in Wilcoxson’sice cream does not contain pork.Today, on the main Wilcoxson’s website under the FAQ tab, the third frequently asked question reads:

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