Social media blasts beer maker over cannibal controversy

Lawyers for Labatt Blue must wish they could climb into a deep hole about now.  The beer maker is trending on Twitter after a blunder by Labatt’s legal team tied it to the media storm surrounding Canadian cannibal, Luka Magnotta.
In case anyone missed it, the cannibal was captured in Europe yesterday after a worldwide manhunt in which he stands accused of killing a Chinese man in Montreal and mailing parts of the body to Canadian politicians. The gruesome events, which include a video of him eating the body, have set off a minor diplomatic incident between Canada and China.
So what on earth does all this have to do with Labatt Blue? Well, nothing. Or it didn’t until  the Montreal Gazette published an online picture from Magnotta’s Facebook page that showed the killer quaffing a cold Blue. The situation was hardly ideal from a brand perspective but Labatt made it infinitely worse by threatening to sue the Gazette unless it removed the photo.
And, boom! The proverbial “Streisand effect” set in as other news outlets reported on Labatt’s attempt to bully the Gazette (which was well within its rights to publish the Facebook pic). The cannibal’s fondness for Labatt is now part of internet lore and has already led to a tasteless new Twitter hashtag #newlabattcampaign:

The new meme has also taken on a life of its own with images like:

Labatt has reportedly backed down on its threats to sue the Gazette but the damage appears to have been done. The case is likely to join McDonald’s ill-fated #McDstories hashtag as another social media parable.
Labatt is a staple of curling, hockey and other elements of Canadian hoser culture and has long been enjoyed by non-cannibals too. The brewer is Canada’s largest and is controlled by Belgian giant Anheuser Busch InBev.