Don’t Feed the Trolls: 4 Applause-Worthy Case Studies from the World’s Leading Brands

How you should be handling one of the trickiest PR issues anyone can face today—courtesy of brands and people who’ve done it themselves.


For as long as the internet’s been alive, the phenomenon of “trolling” has been a rather unwanted cornerstone of the web’s existence—and it’s a lot more prevalent than ever.

Unlike viruses, phishing scams, and DDoS attacks, trolling doesn’t discriminate in terms of what it targets and has no other reason for happening or existing than mucking about and raising hell. And in recent years, it’s become a lot more commonplace because of the ever-growing immersion of nearly all facets of life in social media…

Making for both more targets and more trolls. 

While everyone isn’t exempt from the possibility of getting trolled by teenagers, “sh**posters”, or mischievous internet dwellers, it’s an unfortunate event that has a higher likelihood of affecting both businesses and celebrities. It’s becoming so common, in fact, that handling trolling is slowly becoming a crucial part of any establishment or public figure’s PR and marketing strategies…

Which brings us to our question of the day:

What’s the best way to handle trolls? 


Generally, there’s a growing list of tried-and-tested approaches that work well for handling even the toughest waves of trolling, criticism, and negativity. Learning how to deal with these things, however, is best done by taking a page out of the books of brands and figures that have done it themselves—and created formidable, fool-proof approaches as a result of doing so. 

If you’re getting trolled right now (or you simply want to prepare long before it does happen), then there’s no better way to learn than from actual examples of those who took on trolling and won. And to help you do exactly that, we’ve put together this list of examples that can help you form your strategy (and overall approach in the long run): 

1. Wendy’s

Recently, Wendy’s has established itself as one of the foremost experts on handling trolls as if they knew it like the back of their hand. 

Thanks to their teams of marketing experts and PR whizzes that are always quick on their feet, they’ve maintained a strong system that helps them fight trolling from all angles. Twitter, in particular, is one place where the American fast food giant is especially snarky, witty, and unstoppable in its anti-troll and anti-negativity efforts. 

Compared to other fast food chains, Wendy’s takes a rather unfiltered approach as it continues to push the boundaries on how it handles haters of all levels. Whether it’s about their frozen meat, their long-standing beef with every fast-food chain that isn’t them, or square patties, this household name takes on all the smoke with a sense of risk that’s as admirable as it is effective. 

Check out their distinctive style of handling trolls in this series of tweets:

2. Bungie

Unlike Wendy’s, who’s ready to throw hands every chance they get, game development company Bungie—the right mind behind the Portal series—takes a one-liner approach. 

While it’s not exactly a company that gets involved in clapping back against trolls and haters, its recent support of reproductive health bills in the US put it in such a situation. And although Bungie wasn’t the most experienced in troll-handling, how they handled baseless—and, quite frankly, bigoted—criticism serves as a shining example businesses and public figures should take notes from:

Sure, this reply may not seem so “groundbreaking” at first, but it’s a classic example of taking a troll’s stupidity and using it against them. It's a simple approach that has a huge impact, to say the least. So if you don’t want to be overly aggressive against trolls but still want to get the last laugh and make and example out of them, take a page out of Bungie’s book and let the magic happen. 

3. XBox

The longer you spend on the internet, the sooner you’ll realize one thing: 

Trolls come in all sorts of forms—each of which need to be dealt with differently. 

One of the trickiest troll types today, in particular, is the “baiting troll”. Usually, they’re a lot harder to deal with because they live to hate and create drama by setting up traps for unsuspecting brands and figures to fall into so they get the reaction they want. 

When it comes to dealing with baiting trolls, XBox is one of the frontrunners for being the best example of taking care of these problems with smart, simple, and effective solutions. And how do they deal with them?

It’s simple: they don’t reply. 

Generally, the best way to deal with a baiting troll without risking your brand or personal image is to not reply at all. This works extremely well because you don’t give these bad actors an opportunity to capitalize on. All while passively building your reputation as a company or figure that puts trolls in their place.

4. KFC (Great Britain)

In 2018, KFC faced a problem in its chain of Great Britain shops that no restaurateur or F&B entrepreneur would ever want to face: 

They ran out of chicken.

Of course, the internet—well, being the internet—made it easy for trolls to find out what was happening to the house of finger-lickin’ good chicken. Eventually, news spread like wildfire and professional hecklers and haters rushed to sling whatever they could at KFC Britain in the hopes of getting a few chuckles at the expense of the chain. 

Well, this was the plan until trolls were met with KFC’s team of professional handlers. 

To work around the chicken shortage that forced it to temporarily close 800 branches, KFC put out full-page advertisements that featured a reworked version of their logo with a very humorous spelling: “FCK.” 

With this simple, catchy, and effective advertisement, KFC managed to quell trolls by simply resonating with their customer base—to the point where no one had any other reason to do anything but understand and chuckle. And by owning up to its shortcomings, the fried chicken giant got to build a stronger rapport with consumers, leading to warm reception once it had its key ingredient again. 

Starve a Troll With the Right Approaches

Getting trolled is a predicament that no one ever wants to experience—but every business needs to prepare for it in one way or another. 

With the right strategies, you’ll be able to take on any wave of negativity and s**t-talking in a way that anyone that’s ever gotten bad publicity wishes they would. Putting these together, however, entails doing a lot of research and coming prepared to handle all stages that come about during a troll-packed situation. 

Once you start taking pages out of the books of these four brands, you can easily forge the best strategies that achieve the best results possible. So, take the necessary time to study their approaches and experiences as best as you can! 

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