Please note the updated information and timeline of events as the unfolded. Scroll to end of post to read more.
Click here to view Part 2 with my observations and to join the discussion on lessons learned from the event.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithms can be a real pain in the rear for most folks, delaying the appearance of posts for most Page Fans or friends with possibly only 10% of the audience being reached on a great post. But the more engagement a post receives, the more visible it will be to a Page’s audience. Well in this case, that delay may mean that page administrators over at The Original Muck Books Company are looking for a taller pair of boots on Tuesday morning.
On Friday, August 1, Muck Boot’s Facebook account shared a photo promoting a fundraising effort that raised roughly $2,000 for the Humane Society of the United State. This happened not just once, but twice. The photos have since been hidden from the Company’s Timeline, but they are still visible in Page albums. Someone will have a rude awakening on Tuesday morning as hundreds of farmers, ranchers, hunters and anglers have taken to social media sharing their opinions of the Company’s apparent fundraising activities.
For those of you who are not aware, HSUS is an animal rights organization under the guise of helping shelter pets in times of abuse, neglect and disaster. When a case is reported or a door of opportunity exists for publicity to help animals in need, the organization swoops in, makes statements for the cameras and often leaves local humane society and pet shelter organizations to foot the bill. HSUS campaigns heavily in the public eye for working on behalf of neglected pets and lobbies heavily against animal agriculture, hunting, fishing, trapping and modern food production practices while advocating for a vegan diet. The organization has been heavily criticized by charity monitoring groups, recently having their charity ratings lowered and there have been several questions about their fraudulent tax returns, stuff profits outside of the country and lining the pockets of their leadership.
I’ve written about my opinions of HSUS previously on the blog. Click Here to read more.
Let’s hope the posts by Muck Boots were a mistake or maybe even that they were unaware of the status of HSUS among their customer base. Either way, they have yet to release any corrections to the post, but discussion boards are already lighting up for both agriculture and hunting communities.
I encourage you to head over and leave comments on Muck Boot’s Facebook and Twitter (@MuckBootsCo) accounts letting them know you’re not okay with making donations to fraudulent groups like HSUS who campaign against our way of life. When you do comment, please be respectful.
Update: Apparently it needs emphasizing that it looks awful silly to proclaim you’re throwing away a pair of $100+ boots over a Facebook post. I have yet to see an official statement from Muck Boots in support of HSUS.
This move, if not corrected, will certainly make me think twice before choosing Muck over another brand of boots when it comes time for my next purchase. What about you?
Update 9 a.m. Mountain Time: Looks like the photos were just removed from the Muck Boot Facebook account.
Update 10:15 Mountain Time: Muck Boots has shared this response on their Facebook page:
“We would like to respond to our loyal customers and provide additional information about recent posts on social media regarding a monetary donation to a local animal care organization. Our post inaccurately stated that a donation was made to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Moreover, the post itself was inappropriate under the circumstances.
Family members of an employee who recently passed away requested that, in lieu of flowers, co-workers donate funds to the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island, a local association founded in 1978 to solve community issues primarily related to stray cats. They are not affiliated with HSUS as the posts incorrectly stated.
The money is not a corporate donation, but a collection of personal contributions from employees with the intent of remembering a beloved co-worker. While our intentions were good, the use of corporate social channels under these circumstances was inappropriate.
Muck Boots has a heritage of respect for the outdoors and for nature. We apologize for the anger and confusion the posts have caused and have removed them from our social channels.”
Update 12 p.m. Mountain Time: It appears not all is well with Muck Boot’s response or claim on where the fundraiser donation was directed. The Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island made this statement on their Facebook page a few moments ago: (h/t Dairy Carrie for pointing this out)
“Okay folks to clear things up – WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED A DONATION FROM MUCK BOOTS! WE ARE NOT AFIILIATED WITH THE HSUS. Although a $2000 donation would be very nice. But please stop calling us to ask, we have enough to do caring for the animals in our shelter and taking care of out clinic patients.”
Update 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time: HANRI updated their status again to confirm that they have been in touch with Muck Boots, who will be sending in a donation. Ok, glad we know that Muck Boots is holding up to the initial statements of a donation to be made. Several folks have commented asking exactly what beliefs HANRI is in-line with HSUS on. I’m sure it’ll stir up the pot if this local Rhode Island group isn’t very fond of livestock farming or hunting… But it’s probably much preferred to the national HSUS and their pocketbooks.
“Okay everybody, let’s clear the air here…Not sure what all the controversy was about today but I do not want our organization to be misrepresented. I got a call from Muck Boots and they are donating to our organization in honor of one of their employees who recently passed away. And while we are not affiliated with the HSUS we do NOT condemn them and actually share many of their values, (only I don’t make $200,000 a year.) I just found it interesting that this donation caused so much controversy when there are so many other issues to be concerned with. I also wonder why so many people who are obviously partake in activities that are contrary to our beliefs “liked” our page.”
Update August 6: Sean O’brien left this response in the comments section below.
“Thanks for your post Ryan. Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day for us and certainly not our social media team. We made a mistake — ok several — and for that we’re really, really sorry.
Truth be told, here’s what happened…we suffered the loss of a colleague from cancer. As you can surely understand, that’s never easy. Employees got together, and, based on his family’s wishes, decided to contribute funds to our local humane society in lieu of flowers. We know that’s what he would have wanted. Honestly, here in Smithfield, Rhode Island, we were thinking of “rescue” puppies and kittens and never a broader agenda. It was not the intent to capitalize on a contribution or a death, but rather, we wanted to share the good will embraced by our employees with our community. We do realize that posting content on this on our branded Muck channels was a major mistake, one we won’t make again. We’re sickened by the fact that wearers of Muck feel as is we’ve let them down. It was never our intention. ”
— Sean O’Brien, director footwear, Muck.
Update August7, 3:30 p.m. Eastern: Muck Boots updated their Facebook page with a more lengthy response to address concerns raised after Tuesday’s statement.
A few days ago we made a series of mistakes here and on our other social media channels. Words can’t express how sorry we are that we’ve caused so much disappointment in our brand. There’s been a lot of speculation as to what happened, and clearly our initial statement caused even more confusion.
While we’ve been quiet here, please know that we’ve been reading every one of your comments and I want to personally address your concerns.
Here’s exactly what happened…we suffered the loss of a colleague a few months ago. Our colleague had a long fight with cancer and had a cat that was by his side until the very end. Because of that, his family requested that — in lieu of flowers — donations by employees, not the company, be made to a local animal shelter in his honor. The Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island (HANRI) was identified as our local shelter; it’s about ten miles from our office in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Here are the mistakes we made: first, we posted photos on our Facebook page and on Instagram of an employee-sponsored collection effort in our warehouse, which was disrespectful to our colleague and completely inappropriate. Despite our good intent, we should never have used these corporate channels for what was a private matter. Then, we incorrectly tagged Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in the posts, when the money was actually intended for our local animal shelter. And finally, when the statement went up in an attempt to clarify the events, the money hadn’t yet been delivered, because the funds were still being collected. Cash and personal checks were hand-delivered yesterday by the same employees who raised the funds.
Needless to say, our entire team has learned some hard lessons this week.
We know it is you, our customers, who have helped build the Muck Boot brand to what it is today. We would never intentionally alienate you, and we sincerely apologize if we have done so this past week. We’ve worked hard over the years to build quality footwear and to build a brand that is broadly trusted – we hope that you’ll give us a chance to earn back that trust.
Farmers, outdoor enthusiasts and sportsmen are among our most loyal customers and at the core of what we do and why we do it. You can continue to count on us for the very best footwear and to never forget who we work for – you, our customers.
— Sean O’Brien, director of footwear, Muck Boots.