Via The Independent:
Habitat was forced to apologise last night after it emerged that the home furnishings retailer had been using the violence in Iran to direct potential customers towards its spring collection.
The store faced an angry consumer backlash after users of the Twitter website noticed Habitat adding keywords linked to the ongoing violence in Iran in its efforts to get customers to sign up for the chance of winning a £1,000 voucher. Habitat’s own Twitter account was found to be using Iran- related hashtags (keywords that help Twitterers refine their searches). “HabitatUK: #Mousavi Join the database for free to win a £1,000 gift card,” read one of the retailer’s posts, above. With much of the world’s media banned from reporting on the streets, Twitter has proved instrumental in getting news out from Iran and has seen high traffic volumes. Anyone searching for #Mousavi, trying to get information connected to the man who claims he was cheated out of the Iranian presidency, would have seen the Habitat ad pop up. The move has turned into a PR nightmare for the store. Its Twitter account was forced to delete most of its postings yesterday after Twitterers bombarded it with damning messages. A Habitat spokesman said: “This was a mistake and we will do our utmost to ensure mistakes are never repeated.”