by Graham Pierrepoint
The London Dungeon is a hugely popular UK exhibition that hosts a grim, darkly comic and fascinating look into the world of British dungeons and prisons from centuries past – it’s pretty gruesome, safe to say, and it’s therefore certainly not for the faint-hearted. It is, however, still extraordinarily popular especially with locals and tourists – and, at the same time, educational, and considered one of the most interesting days out for those visiting the capital. The attraction, however, came under fire this week for causing a completely different matter altogether – and it was all to do with Valentine’s Day.
Twitter is perhaps becoming a bit of a hot spot for headline-grabbing drama. It’s famously used by President Donald Trump, where the statesman has become rather infamous, arguably, for casting his opinion on various proceedings – both before and after he took office. Trump aside, however, the official Twitter account of The London Dungeon came under fire this week for creating and tweeting a series of jokes that many complained were considerably more ‘morbid’ than they had come to expect from the attraction. The jokes, according to those speaking on behalf of the London Dungeon, were intended to offer an anti-Valentines slant – however, they have generated complaints from several Twitter users who felt that the posts were both misogynistic and insensitive.
Some of the jokes included references to prostitution and sexually-transmitted diseases – some of which were responded to with considerable backlash from the account’s followers. While some saw the funny side, the account soon deleted the posts and Merlin Entertainment – who run the attraction - made a statement to various press outlets stating that they were ‘very sorry’ that their ‘brand tone of voice’ had upset some people. Certainly, while The London Dungeon and its associated brand are hardly known for being warm and fuzzy – it is, after all, dark humour and visuals that sell their brand – it seems that this particular line of jokes were perhaps a little too insensitive for those who slammed the attraction online.
Where, therefore, does the ‘line’ for a joke lie? As a public facing business, many firms and brands have learned that not all marketing is destined to work the crowd – and while London Dungeon’s ‘Dark Valentine’ campaign hit more than a few nerves, it was not the first brand to do so – nor, likely, will it be the last.