NEW YORK, N.Y. – 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?”
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. And 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.