Dad Cooks Dinner – Social Media Disaster Follows!

Watching a brand being slaughtered on social media before your eyes can be a strangely compelling thing!

Is it schadenfreude?

Or is it more to do with gaining an understanding of how relentless and punishing Twitter and blogging can be if you get a campaign horribly wrong!

Whichever it was I noticed a particularly acidic Tweet tonight which was aimed directly at a US sauce in a jar company called Ragu.

I probably would have thought nothing of it except for the fact that the Tweet was from a really big US social media name Jason Falls. Jason owns a super high profile social media blog and consultancy called socialmediaexplorer so we are  talking serious influence here.

So I took a look at the link which took me to a post by a blogger named  CC Chapman. He had posted a blog titled “Ragu Hates Dads” – a self-admitted rant, this post really took it to Ragu in a big way on a number of issues.

Remember this is Twitter so this stuff is happening really fast!

CC Chapman would have to be typing frantically to get the post out so quickly!

What was Ragu’s social media faux-pas?

Well, it was more an entire advertising campaign miscalculation. The video which is the main focus of the campaign is below:

Apart from the obvious sexual stereotyping the video is pretty innocuous. Blokes are mainly useless in the kitchen – OK with waffles or grills, and when their wives are relieved of their cooking duties they drink cocktails or wine or sometimes even interact with the kids…

Who wrote this stuff? Ugghhh!

But we have all seen shockingly inept advertising campaigns before so why did this one get people so heated?

Here is the crucial element!

Some social media genius thought it would be a great idea to target “Dad Bloggers” on Twitter through mentions with the brilliant tagline “What’s dinnertime like when Dad cooks?”. So they sent a link to dozens of influential Dads (most of whom of course work at home so more than likely have a hand in the daily household running!) expecting that this would get Ragu massive exposure – and “maybe even go viral!”

Ouch! It went viral all right but not the way the company would have liked.

If you look at the comments below the highly scathing blog post – and there are 70 at last count – you will see many people weighing in with their own broadsides but the interesting thing is the caliber of the commenters. Chris Brogan is internationally recognised and has a following on Twitter of around 200,000. Scott Monty is the social media strategist for Ford Motor Co and is a hugely popular blogger. And the list of people who have shared with their followings leads to scary numbers – and that’s just the blog!

Check out the Twitter stream around @RaguSauce! There are dozens of tweets directly criticizing the clumsiness of this campaign.

This one is from Ragu themselves to get the ball rolling!

RT if there's a @ Dad in your family! Tomorrow we'll explore what happens when #Dad cooks #dadstheword

Then the spam @mentions were sent out to get the campaign really rocking.

And this is some of what happened next:


STILL pissed at stupid @ @ spamming Dads with a video that slams dads in the kitchen. I think #FUragu sounds nice 🙂
C.C. Chapman



This is ridiculous. Sexist stereotypes are horrendous > @ Hates Dads (@) #RaguDads
Damien Basile



@ unleashes on @ with a "Ragu Hates Dads" rant. Disappointing missed opp, all around:
Ann Handley


When you examine the full stream of Tweets and look at who they are sent by several Tweeters have more than 100,000 followers, many have more than 30,000 followers and the defending voices are conspicuous by their absence.

How potentially damaging to a large brand is this?

Think about a large number of fiercely critical messages sent to potentially millions within a very short period of time with absolutely nothing from the company.

My guess would be that the person who is “doing” social media for the company simply knocked off work at the usual time and went home. Immediately following the launch of a major and possibly controversial campaign they simply closed down and left the building!

No one monitoring channels for negative feedback, no one looking after the social media accounts overnight and no one there to step in with some form of damage control.

And this is the thing with social media management for large brands (and Ragu has over half a million Facebook fans):

It is absolutely essential that these channels are monitored 24/7. It is also essential that the person doing the monitoring has the experience and the authority to make decisions on the spot and to react in a way that will stop the spread of animosity quickly and effectively!

And they need to apologise! Quickly, and with genuine regret for offence caused.

This is social media! Sitting in a corporate office saying “Who cares if a few don’t like it” will not cut it in this space!

At this point – 6 hours after it all started there is still no response. One Twitter user noted that it only takes 4 hours to seriously damage a brand.

Boy will there be some big questions tomorrow!



Ragu have contacted CC Chapman and Dadlabs and asked for an offline conversation 17 hours after the Twitter stream started. There have more than likely been meetings with PR and Legal this morning.




About Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan works with innovative businesses in New Zealand and Australia developing custom web marketing strategies integrating SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media Optimisation. When not in front of his screens you will probably find Mike walking on beautiful Ohope Beach with wife Midge and doberman Cooper. Follow Mike on Twitter here and


  1. Thanks for sharing this story with your readers.

    What upsets me the most is how lazy their agency was on this. I’ve run campaigns for companies big and small and the one thing I always tell them is that you MUST be listening.

    Think I might just have to send a copy of my book to the team at Ragu so they can read it. *laugh*

    • Thanks C.C.
      I am certain there will be pretty serious discussions behind closed doors at Ragu today!

      This sort of misunderstanding about how social media works and how it can punish you is unfortunately quite widespread!

      Nice to meet you.
      All the best

  2. I think because people are to some degree anonymous when posting online and using social media it makes them a little more vocal and sometimes nasty. Its definitly the bad side of social media but people who will speak to people on twitter in a way that they would be scared to in the real world.

    • Hi Lessa,
      Yes, I see some appalling behaviour on social media sites! Particularly if politics is involved, it can get really ugly! I think this post is more about the poor marketing judgement than abusive Twitter behaviour though. The way the campaign was handled was inept and there was no mechanism to handle bad publicity when the reactions began. Some of the people who posted are social media industry leaders so it wasn’t about anonymous abuse at all.
      All the best

      • I follow you now, I was doing some reading on the way people can and do act online so I was a little more in that frame of mind. I was more hinting that the peopel who were doing the complaining (not the comany or the people behind the brand but the people having a go at the brand) might not be so vocal face to face.

        I still agree that its something that brands need to be ready for now because as ugly as it is…. it is the way things happen now!

        • Hi Lessa,
          Yes, I am sure you are right! Some of the conversations I see online could only happen in the virtual world. And some of the people would never want to be in the same room with the people they are abusing – so no chance of any face to face confrontation. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to excessive levels of nastiness!
          Thanks again

  3. the video was great thanks for sharing this with us,and i miss my father cook for me he is the best dad i ever had.

    • Hi Messa,
      Nice! Some of us guys can actually cook and don’t fit the usual stereotypes.
      Thanks for your contribution.
      All the best

  4. Hi, Mike!
    Thaks for sharing us your story! I think people should have a civilized behaviour, even if they are hidding behind a PC screen. The wrong part is they don’t and, more, they take advantage of their virtual popularity on those social networks (like Twitter or Facebook). That isn’t right!

    • Hi Angela,
      Thanks for your comment. It does seem that a lot of people are sick of the ferocity of critical comments in social media. Fortunately there are a lot of people who add positive feedback as well. Sometimes though constructive criticism is necessary. Did the blog author go too far? I’d be interested to hear others take on this.
      All the best

  5. Hello Mike, I agree with Lessa, people hide there personality to feel free what they are saying using social media. That’s quite the bad side.

    • Hi Evon,
      Unfortunately there are a lot of people who use pseudonyms so they can try to take down others who are more successful than they are. You notice this type of behaviour where there is no comment moderation and it is pretty vile. Note though that the comments taking Ragu to task were not anonymous. These people were quite comfortable in putting their names next to any comments. I think that is a big difference.
      Thanks for your comment.
      All the best

  6. Hi, Mike! Thanks for your response. I see you’re really interested in your readers opinion. That’s the secret of being a real blogger.

    All the bests!

  7. That’s the problem of modern online conversations. Sitting behind the screens all of us are brave to say things we won’t say in the face. Unfortunately I can’t see how we can change it now.

    • Hi Henry,
      I think it is interesting the comments which lean toward being critical of the people who tweeted their disappointment (and in some cases pretty angrily) in the Ragu campaign. There seems to be a feeling out there of “let’s just all get along a little bit better and be a bit nicer to each other please”. As I have said previously I am appalled by the vitriol dispensed around political allegiances and I find willfully nasty anonymous commenting by smart-asses plain irritating. However debate is healthy – when it is conducted in a non-abusive manner! It’s finding that line that many find difficult!
      Appreciate your input.

  8. Hi, Mike! Things happen with such an amazing speed in Social Media. It’s a land of opportunities, but there are also dangers right around the corner…

    • Hi Erica,
      Unfortunately the hidden dangers are one of the reasons some companies are not prepared to risk using these business platforms. In my opinion the benefits outweigh the risk many times over if you manage correctly.
      Thanks for visiting

  9. The funniest part to me is that we are talking about Ragu here. Pasta sauce. In a jar. To cook it, you put it on the stove and boil some pasta. Better yet, stick it in the microwave.

    What they did is far from shocking, though. The women seemed honest enough about their lousy husbands. Personally, if my wife was going to berate me for money to a wide audience it better be a LOT of money, and I better see a cut.

    If there is going to be a real change here, I’d say the three mom bloggers in the video should force their husbands to learn how to pour pasta sauce from a jar and punch 2 minutes on the microwave. Then they can all enjoy their overprocessed, high-sodium, watery meal together.

    Personally, I’ll be cooking up a nice vegan meal for my wife and kids. Maybe a nice pumpkin curry, or something else. They have tons of real homemade recipes to choose from.

    • Hi Phil,

      Love it! You are very right about the type of product involved…

      I guess the point is more about the ineptitude of the marketing strategies, but you have hit upon a very good point and one that really bugged the SAHDs and Dad bloggers that took exception to the frankly insulting theme of the campaign. Paying Mom bloggers to run down their partners is a strategy?

      I really enjoyed your blog btw.

  10. Wow, just wow. I am a single father who blogs and writes for a living; and I can tell you now, this actually really irked me. The other day my ex left the kids off and they had toys from a fast food restaurant. Every time they come here they seem to have “dined out.”

    Don’t get me wrong, there is a perfectly valid reason for these visits to fast food restaurants. My point, I suppose, is that these advert was a huge sweeping generalization. What astounds me though is that they were so confident of how it would be received by working fathers; they didn’t even monitor the noise from the social media sites.

    There is no way that the person or department responsible for this disaster has any clue about the nature of social marketing. That, combined with the concept of the promotion itself, makes them out of touch on two levels. I’d say there have been some harsh words spoken at Ragu HQ. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to have to explain the logic involved behind this gem.

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for the fantastic comment!
      It was a major misstep in this case to assume that SAHDs would be amused by being lumped into the “mere male” category. This is not the 1950s! There was a case recently here where a major airline made a big social media blunder – a post I read soon after from a local marketing management person outlined how to shut up shop and stop communication with any media at all to devise a strategy for damage control. This process was going to take a couple of days to put in place – sorry – doesn’t work like that in this fast moving space!
      Nice to meet you Frank.
      All the best

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