Which Media Disaster of April 2017 Garnered the Most Attention?

April 2017 may have set the official record for most brand and PR catastrophes. From consumer advertising disasters, to music festival nightmares, and a political blunder in between, these stories dominated headlines over the course of this past month—for all the wrong reasons.

The main culprits in April’s never-ending series of gaffes:

Pepsi for their short-lived ad featuring Kendall Jenner crashing a protest about nothing

United Airlines for their inevitably infamous “re-accommodating” of passenger David Dao

Press Secretary Sean Spicer for incorrectly claiming that Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people during WWII

Fyre Festival for charging thousands for an exclusive private island music festival that quickly morphed into a situation akin to a modern-day Lord of the Flies

And as can be expected with the Internet, each event occurred in such close succession that the preceding incident inspired the next’s onslaught of jokes, insults and memes across social media.

While these events held steady as top trending topics on social media throughout the month, we wanted to dive a bit deeper into the news and media attention they each received—across TV, online news and blogs—to let the data decide which incident was the biggest spectacle.

We compiled data between April 1 and May 1, 2017, and tracked Pepsi, United Airlines, Sean Spicer’s comments and Fyre Festival.












Upon immediate comparison, the United Airlines incident is the clear victor across all areas of focus—most media mentions earned throughout the month of April, greatest share of voice, and largest initial spike of mentions.

These results aren’t exactly shocking. It was impossible to escape the traumatic images of a bloody and stunned David Dao being dragged down a plane aisle. And then, due to an improper response, United perpetuated the story and kept it relevant in the media throughout the following weeks.

Pepsi, on the other hand, might just want to thank both United Airlines and Sean Spicer for putting a stop to the negative attention they received for their politically-charged advertisement. It was a terrible attempt at capitalizing on the current political climate, but oddly enough, the current political climate steered attention away from Pepsi as it arguably stirred up and sensationalized the subsequent United and Spicer incidents.

Speaking of—what can we say about the Sean Spicer gaffe? While maintaining as much political neutrality as possible, many can agree that the current administration’s ability to make headlines on a daily—no, hourly basis—most likely contributed to this story’s quickly decreasing media coverage.

Then there was Fyre Festival 2017—the most recent of these crisis events. A bunch of wealthy millennials descending upon a private island for another music festival is anything but newsworthy. But when that music festival turns out to be nothing more than a barren tent-city on a deserted island of gravel, with absolutely no amenities for the thousands of tourists arriving in droves, it became the hot story very quickly.

Since only a few days have passed, we can’t compare Fyre Festival’s total mentions to the preceding incidents occurring a few weeks prior. However, while Fyre Festival dominated social media coverage throughout the weekend, the incident did not pick up nearly as much TV and online news media as the preceding events, thereby suffering from the lowest initial spike of mentions.

Now for everyone’s sake, let’s do our part to put these stories to rest, because it’s only a matter of time before the next sensationalized event from which we can’t escape hits.

And make sure to check out more articles and stories that leverage our powerful TV and media data at iQ Insights.

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