Company Apologizes For Tweeting Image Of Slain Journalist James Foley

An ad agency used an image of slain journalist James Foley to promote a burger chain on Twitter, prompting Foley's mom to urge the company to issue an apology.

UPDATE: The founder of a marketing agency that used an image of slain journalist James Foley in a tweet has personally apologized to Foley's family.

Michael Valor of Valor Media said he talked to James Foley's mother and apologized for the horrific tweet.

Valor added that his company will be working with the James Foley Foundation in the future. The foundation advocates for Americans detained abroad and independent journalists working in conflict zones.

It's great to see that the person responsible for this mistake is going above and beyond to help the foundation and its goal of helping journalists like Foley himself.

After a tweet advertising a hamburger chain featuring an image of slain journalist James Foley went live, people couldn’t believe anyone would be that callous. Now, both the marketing agency behind the ad and the chain are apologizing.

The tweet promoted Z-Burger, a Washington, D.C.-based chain. It featured an image of Foley before his death in the hands of ISIS militants with the words, “you disgrace me” written under it. The tweet said, “When you say you want a burger and someone says okay lets hit McDonalds.”  

The post was promptly deleted.

Valor Media, the marketing company behind the tweet, said that an employee who was not aware of Foley’s story thought the image was from a movie. Its founder, Michael Valor, apologized on Twitter.

"We had an influx of volume, and influx of work that came onto us over the last two or three weeks. We pulled on a new art director onto the staff, and we put out 200 tweets a day," he said in the video. "That being said, this is no excuse for the oversight."

He said that while the tweet was never reviewed before it was published, things are going to change from now on.

"So, what we did was we created modalities and infrastructures so that this will never, ever happen again," he said.

Z-Burger owner Peter Tabibian apologized and said that seeing the image and the tweet made him sick.

"I'm really sorry to the Foley family, to James Foley's friends, and anybody that knew him," Tabibian said.

In a statement shared by the James Foley Foundation, Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, said she expected an apology.

"I am very saddened that Z-Burger would be so insensitive and ignorant of others’ pain while marketing their hamburger,” she said. “I look forward to hearing an apology from Peter Tabibian and Michael Valor and their promised donation to the foundation inspiring moral courage."

The organization advocates for Americans detained abroad and independent journalists working in conflict zones.

Both Valor and Tabibian are expected to contact her today.

While it’s clear that this incident was a mistake, the careless error still made countless people feel anguish and heartache, and rightly so. Hopefully, the donations made by Z-Burger and Valor Media will help spearhead a greater donation drive, helping the James Foley Foundation continue to fight for many years ahead.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Louafi Larbi

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