Rihanna vs Snapchat: A Massive Reputation Mistake Which Cost Them Big

Nadia Munno | March 20, 2018

Snapchat reportedly just lost $800 million because of a singular ad that ran on their platform. Ouch. Obviously, no company is exempt from mistakes or PR failures––but this took it to some new lows. Online reputation management is an art, let’s look at how they failed this semester’s class:

The one play that cost the game

In any sport, the wrong move can cost the game, big or small. In the case of near unicorn company snapchat, well…this is a new level of bad. When it comes to your reputation, it’s what your users and your public perceive you to be, the image you purvey. Any mistake related to your company (especially at that size) will get analyzed. Snapchat’s decision to run and ad for 3rd party game Would You Rather was a definite oversight on their part, for a multitude of reasons. Aside from completely disregarding the current climate on the subject of abuse, discrimination and personally sensitive subjects, it was just plain crude. Having an ad with Chris Brown and Rihanna asking users which one they would rather physically assault is just shear idiocy.



To compound matters, Rihanna saw the ad and blasted snapchat for it and has created a viral news trend which is her encouraging users to delete their accounts.

The reputation they need, but not what they deserve

It’s one thing to screw up, it certainly is something else to be known as a company that makes light of domestic abuse.  As a result, Snapchat stock is crashing, users are fleeting and the once socially abundant platform has become it’s own worst enemy. It’s ironic really. Snapchat’s only defense in this case was they “didn’t create the ad”. Except that in itself is almost worse. Essentially someone had to actually take the time to approve the ad and post if for it’s 150 million users to see.

Needless to say, Rihanna’s response on Instagram was brutal:

“I’d love to call it ignorance but I know you ain’t that dumb!” Rihanna wrote in a statement, posted to her Instagram Stories. “You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet ….you let us down! Shame on you.”

She has 61 million followers, which is nearly half of snapchat’s entire user base. Savage.

Common sense goes a long way–especially in quality control

Let’s be real for a second. All of this could have been avoided by some decent common sense. Guarding your online reputation (which snapchat has evidently committed internet suicide on) largely consists of that one trait. The real issue here is that Snapchat didn’t create the ad itself, but it was really a point of quality control that they failed on. But what does that do? It reflects on them, because they had the power to do something about it.

When your company is that big, the burden of responsibility will be put on you. Here’s what we can learn going forward:

  • Don’t exploit domestic abuse for cheap advertising,
  • Don’t allow abuse of influencers on your platform (obvious),
  • Be on point with quality control related issues relating to advertising,
  • Have a company or team that accurately and intelligently can filter ad space.

In summary, 30 seconds can make or break a billion dollars. But even more, it can define your company, or ruin it.

Co-founder & President
Nadia is the President and co-founder of Massive Alliance. She is an international figure in reputation management and is best known for her rolodex of media influencers.