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Snap Shares Tank Over ‘Slap Rihanna’ Campaign

Rihanna

As Snapchat tries to take on Instagram for celebrity user market share, a ‘Slap Rihanna’ advertising scheme prompted blowback from Rihanna that sent Snap shares tumbling yesterday.

SNAP shares lost 5 percent Thursday, hitting an intraday low of $16.91 after Rihanna unleashed a backlash against Snapchat via Instagram over a game ad that asked users whether they would rather “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown”.

“I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess!” Rihanna wrote on Instagram Thursday. “I’d love to call it ignorance but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV [domestic violence] victims and made a joke of it!!!”

Snapchat was advertising the “Would You Rather” mobile video game, and the “Slap Rihanna” element was in reference to a 2009 incident of domestic violence, in which the singer’s then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, violently assaulted her right before the Grammy Awards, choking, biting and punching her before threatening to kill her. The singer was hospitalized, and Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault.

(Click to enlarge)

Snap is sorry for mocking domestic violence.

“This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service,” a Snap, Inc. spokesman said in a statement Thursday. “We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again. ”  Related: Morgan Stanley’s Top 10 Short-Term Stock Picks

But Rihanna isn’t convinced:

"Shame on you," she wrote. "Throw the whole app-oligy (sic) away," she responded.

We’ll be watching shares in the meantime to see if they can recover from yet another very public disaster—one of many since the over-hyped IPO. It tried on a $30-billion market capitalization for size, but couldn’t keep it on. Snap’s market cap is now $21 billion, and hype has been its bogeyman since the beginning—in more ways than one.

It’s the second time in as many months that SNAP’s vulnerability to viral celebrity posts has caused its stock to plunge.

Kylie Jenner caused SNAP’s shares to plunge in a $1-billion sell-off last month when she let everyone know she was bored with the app after a radical redesign, all but declaring the app dead. The redesign and user backlash prompted Citigroup to downgrade Snap stock to a sell rating, forecasting it would result in a decline in users.

Earlier in February, SNAP, the parent company of Snapchat, announced tweaks to its platform that would give celebrities more data about the performance of their posts—a move analysts described as taking “dead aim at Instagram” in hopes of gaining “market and mind share” of celebrities and their followers. 

Mocking domestic violence using a high-profile celebrity victim isn’t likely to help Snapchat win over coveted celebrity users.

By David Craggen for Safehaven.com

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