Snapchat was forced to pull an ad featuring Rihanna and Chris Brown — but one analyst thinks the bad press could be good for business

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  • Snapchat published an advertisement that asked users whether they’d rather “slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.”
  • Rihanna called the ad “ignorant,” asking why Snap would “bring shame to DV victims.”
  • Jefferies analyst Brent Thill said that the negative attention could get Snap more users.
  • Watch Snap shares in real time.

Investors have been quick to dump shares of Snap when it gets called out by a celebrity – like they did on Thursday when Rihanna drew attention to an ad on Snapchat that makes a joke out of domestic violence. Snap apologized and pulled the ad, saying it violates the messaging platform’s guidelines and was approved in error. The ad asked users, “Would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?” a reference to when Brown assaulted his the singer in 2009.

“Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there,” Rihanna wrote in an Instagram story posted Thursday morning. “But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this whole mess! I’d love to call it ignorance but you know I ain’t that dumb! You spend money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV [domestic violence] victims and make a joke of it!!! … Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

This isn’t the first time this year that Snap has experienced a wave of negative attention surrounding a celebrity. Less than a month ago, Kylie Jenner tweeted she doesn’t use the platform anymore, sending the stock reeling 7%.

“Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” she asked her Twitter followers. “Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.” She followed up with another tweet: “Still love you tho snap … my first love.”

Jenner has since gone back to using the platform.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill thinks the bad news could spur more people to use the app, though, even if it’s because they want to see what all the fuss is about. “This can drive more people to the platform,” he told Business Insider. “It creates more curiosity.”

And perhaps most importantly for Snap Thill says he doesn’t think the negative headlines will have a “material impact” on ad revenue.

Thill made particular note of Facebook’s recent content-clean up agenda, saying that “Zuckerberg has made big changes on the platform that, in our view, is the right thing to do.”

While these incidents could net additional users for platforms in the short -term, Thill thinks that in the long-term, “the more these platforms can do to get rid of the controversy, you’ll have a better environment for advertisers and users.”

Furthermore, he thinks that Snap can follow Facebook’s model for handling the issue. Snap, he says can become “a more proven platform,” like Facebook.

“Snap can actually take some share in the short-term,” he said. Advertisers are “like portfolio managers on Wall Street. They don’t want to bet on one horse. They want to diversify ad platforms.”

Snap shares are up 17.7% this year.

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Markets Insider