Best Buy Promotes Itself With Hilarious Reference To Real-Life Murder

Best-Buy-tweetIf you’re not a listener of the podcast “Serial,” you might have glanced at something that Best Buy tweeted earlier today and thought that it was either a complete non sequitur or a very roundabout promotion for mobile phones. “We have everything you need. Unless you need a payphone,” said the official Twitter account of America’s biggest electronics retailer. Ha ha! Murder is hilarious!

“Serial,” in case you’ve been tuning out all of your friends and co-workers when they won’t shut up about it, is a program produced by public radio station WBEZ that exists only as a podcast. It’s a spinoff of the popular program “This American Life,” a twelve-episode investigation of the murder of a high school senior in the suburbs of Baltimore in 1999.

The victim, Hae Min Lee, disappeared one day after school, and her body found in a nearby park six weeks later. Her ex-boyfriend, high school classmate Adnan Syed, was arrested a few months later for her murder and found guilty at trial. The program is about teenage love, first- and second-generation immigrant identities, race, the competence of the criminal justice system, and Best Buy. It’s a well-told story, but it’s a story about real people.

The parking lot of the Best Buy store at Security Square Mall outside of Baltimore is allegedly where the murder took place, and the main witness and man who claims that he was an accomplice says that the murderer, Syed, called him from the pay phone at Best Buy afterward. The store still exists, but today there is no pay phone. There’s no evidence that there ever was a payphone.

All that is to explain Best Buy’s hilarious murder joke. New episodes of “Serial” drop on Thursdays, and today the second to last episode ran. Like other brands that have hopped on hashtag trains without realizing where they were really going, someone handling social media for Best Buy must have seen that, and maybe also been a listener to the show. The tweet was immensely popular, and even retweeted by the podcast’s official account. We imagine that it was a horrified retweet.


You would think that Best Buy might not embrace the publicity from “Serial”, because testimony from that same witness/accomplice indicated that the murder took place in a secluded corner of the Best Buy parking lot. Maybe the person who wrote that tweet hasn’t reached that episode yet.

As always happens in cases like this, the tweet is now gone (thanks to Mashable for nabbing these screen shots) and Best Buy has apologized.

In a statement to Mashable, a company spokesperson said:

We deeply apologize for the tweet about Serial. It lacked good judgment and doesn’t reflect the values of our company. We have tweeted an apology and taken down the offensive tweet.

Is it okay to joke about the podcast at all, when it’s about an event that still reverberates in the South Asian Muslim community around Baltimore? In the tags of this post, we joke about a recurring ad. People seem to be cool with making jokes about the structure of the podcast, or even meta-jokes about its rabid fanbase or narrative structure, but jokes about the murder itself are problematic.

Best Buy says insensitive ‘Serial’ tweet was ‘clearly in poor taste’ [Mashable]

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