It is the most wonderful time of the year.
The air is crisp. The presents are getting wrapped.
But the news is slow. It is still days until airplane tweet season. Thankfully, an early holiday gift arrives from the heavens: a misfire from a corporate Twitter account. We are here to chronicle it.
The UPS Store is the latest big brand with an entry in the hallowed annals of tweets so out of pocket that they became news stories in media publications like the one you’re reading now.
“If your child addresses a letter to the North Pole, you can leave it with us,” the tweet read. “We do shredding.”
The tweet was deleted, but not before becoming the subject of viral humor!
Let’s do a close reading to pull apart the tweet’s meaning.
"If your child . . .
The tweet begins on shaky footing. We are talking about children who are supposed to be shielded from society’s crasser elements. Among them: the capriciousness of algorithms, the banal cruelty of digital crowds, the black hole that 21st-century capitalism has in place of a heart. Children are never fair game. Never!
addresses a letter to the North Pole . . .
We are back on solid ground. Children writing letters to Santa, his elves, or whatever present-producing gods you believe in. That is what children are supposed to do. It is what they have long done. It is a reminder that not everything has been degraded or disrupted by automated technologies and their unseemly inclinations. Kids with a pen and a piece of paper, writing in heart-rending and sincere faith that an imaginary man in a red suit is looking out for them!
you can leave it with us.
Once again: Where are we going with this? Does the UPS Store mail letters? Is that what we’re getting at? We probably would have just spirited these letters away to the shoe box in the closet, dusted them off for a laugh in 20 years, you know. But we are intrigued, despite the ominous notes in that statement. Perhaps we doth protest too much. Let us know what cool thing you have planned, and we’ll consider it.
We do shredding.”
You were the one who made the offer in the first place! Okay. Was the joke that we are gullible fools and should have never believed an innocent offer of kindness from a brand on the Internet? We regret having abandoned our deep-seated skepticism. We are embarrassed to have been caught thinking like a child. But we also kind of like the tweet! If you were going to tweet it, you should have stuck with it.
Staci Reidinger, a public relations and social media manager at the UPS Store, which franchises its brand, was quick to return a reporter’s phone call. She said the brand has been working on cultivating a fun personality on social media for the past year, with the help of creative agency EP+Co. Still, the UPS Store reviews all tweets the agency writes for it before they are published.
The brand was “trying to find a way to get you looking and paying attention to our brand,” she said the tweet was emphasizing shredding, what she called one of the lesser-heralded services of its stores.
“We were trying to be fun, put something out there,” she said. But the reaction was swift. The complaints rolled in, including by phone. “I can’t believe the UPS Store would say something like that,” some comments said. There were accusations of Grinch-like behavior.
“We were, like, maybe this isn’t in alignment of where we were going to go with our holiday personality and posts,” she said.