The Pennsylvania Ballet made waves on December 30, responding to a disgruntled Philadelphia Eagles fan who made a sexist remark on social media.
Mourning the failure of this year’s season, the fan wrote that the team played as if “they were wearing tutus.” The disparaging remark did not go unanswered. In a social media coup, the Pennsylvania Ballet penned a thoughtful response on Facebook.
“A Facebook user recently commented that the Eagles had ‘played like they were wearing tutus!!!,’” the company’s post began.
With all due respect to the Eagles, let’s take a minute to look at what our tutu wearing women have done this month:
By tomorrow afternoon, the ballerinas that wear tutus at Pennsylvania Ballet will have performed The Nutcracker 27 times in 21 days. Some of those women have performed the Snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers without an understudy or second cast. No ‘second string’ to come in and spell them when they needed a break. When they have been sick they have come to the theater, put on make up and costume, smiled and performed. When they have felt an injury in the middle of a show there have been no injury timeouts. They have kept smiling, finished their job, bowed, left the stage, and then dealt with what hurts… So no, the Eagles have not played like they were wearing tutus. If they had, Chip Kelly would still be a head coach and we’d all be looking forward to the playoffs.
The post attracted 22,000 likes, over 1,000 comments, and was shared 13,000 times.
Taking chances doesn’t always work, as social media managers get themselves in hot water from time-to-time. From companies attaching their brands to tragic anniversaries (as Build-a-Bear Workshop and CVS did with 9/11), to clueless attempts to enter social justice conversations (Starbucks’ “Let’s Race Together” campaign comes to mind), businesses and organizations have become the subject of ridicule over failed social media stunts.
That doesn’t mean that organizations shouldn’t put themselves out there. The Pennsylvania Ballet safely used an objectively demeaning tweet, refrained from ad hominem attacks on the poster, and used the opportunity to frame the physical and athletic demands that professional ballet dancers face. The end result is a message of empowerment and a highly shareable piece of content that is both informative and humorous.