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Home Depot apology prompted by racist tweet

Home Depot apology: In addition to the apology for the racist tweet, Home Depot fired the employee and outside agency responsible.

By StaffAssociated Press / November 9, 2013


New York

Home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc. on Thursday apologized for a tweet that showed a picture of two African-American drummers with a person in a gorilla mask in between them and asked: "Which drummer is not like the others?"

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The tweet, from Home Depot's official Twitter account, @HomeDepot, was part of a "College Gameday" college football promotion on ESPN. It was quickly pulled, but not before people took screen shots of it and it was widely circulated on social media. NBC and CNBC, among others, reported on the Tweet.

Home Depot said Friday that it has fired the person and outside agency that was responsible for the tweet, but did not disclose their names.

"We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive," said Stephen Holmes, spokesman for the Atlanta-based company.

Holmes said the company is "closely" reviewing its social media procedures to determine "how this could have happened, and how to ensure it never happens again."

Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates, said the tweet is "the worst possible message Home Depot can send out ... even if it gets attributed to stupidity."

"In a Twitter world where everyone can see everything instantly I think you'll see more rather than less of this because people tweet before they think," Adamson said.

Home Depot is not the first company to get in trouble for offensive tweets. In September, AT&T apologized for a Twitter message that commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks because of complaints the company was using the event to promote itself.

KitchenAid faced backlash in 2012 when one of its employees mistakenly posted a tweet about President Barack Obama's grandmother death on the official KitchenAid Twitter account.

During a 2012 presidential debate, Obama credited his tenacious grandmother who helped raise him and passed away three days before he was elected president.

Moments later, @KitchenAidUSA, the company's official Twitter account, sent this:

"Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! 'She died 3 days b4 he became president'."

KitchenAid quickly apologized: "Hello, everyone. My name is Cynthia Soledad, and I am the head of the KitchenAid brand. I would like to personally apologize to President Barack Obama, his family and everyone on Twitter for the offensive tweet sent earlier. It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won't be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I take full responsibility for my team. Thank you for hearing me out."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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