The ‘Bad’ Social Media Campaigns That Came From Free Speech.
With each new day we turn on our computers and see the ‘Best of’ and ‘Worst of’ lists appearing absolutely everywhere. From the best hunting spots to the worst movies of 2012, as the New Year creeps closer we are inundated with what we can be proud of and what should have been thrown in the trash far before it ever saw the light of day.
Well…the world of social media may be young, but it is also a place where triumphs and failures have been seen by one and all. There are advertising campaigns, Twitter and Facebook campaigns, landing pages and giveaways – all different areas of public relations and advertising that have lived and died by the ‘clicks’ of the people. So it’s only fair to give a shout out to some of the worst marketing and social media campaigns we’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with.
It’s important to note, however, that it is also an exciting time for this particular brand of marketing, and it’s time to face the facts that social media will soon be the only type of marketing that will even matter as time goes forward. Bloggers, websites, landing pages – this is the world that is bringing in the cash for almost all industries, and the social media team is the one ‘group’ that all companies will hire by the end of 2013 in order to bring in those much-needed profits. From small businesses to start-ups to companies on a grand scale – no matter what’s in the coffers, companies are creating budgets that make sure to include social media campaigns in order to sell their products. The only unfortunate part is that they really need to look for that social media team that won’t get it wrong…
It’s odd that the most talked about campaigns of 2012 fall into the ‘worst’ category, because of the issue of free speech, but it’s true. One that a great deal of ‘listmakers’ out there are calling the absolute worst of 2012, would be a Twitter campaign for one of the largest and most well-known businesses around the globe. Yup, it was for McDonald’s, and it’s still being talked about even though it first appeared back in January.
The #McDStories campaign was a way for people to tweet their stories about ‘happy meals’ – about their memories of a McDonald’s moment in time that they shared with family, friends, their first love, etc. Not surprisingly in a world that absolutely loves things like ‘The Walking Dead,’ people were soon tweeting some of the most disgusting stories anyone could read. From diners as well as McDonald’s ex-employees, truly gross moments within the franchise walls appeared on Twitter. Monumental ‘buzz’ occurred showing that it was a popular campaign, but what didn’t go right was the fact that between sick senses of humor and giving people an open door to express their displeasure with a former employer – McDonald’s failed miserably with their campaign.
Another that listmakers have mentioned thus far is also a campaign that the people in America, as well as England, are still talking about. Much like McDonald’s, a supermarket chain called Waitrose, which is run in the United Kingdom, launched their #WaitroseReasons campaign. They, too, invited their loyal customers to tweet the reasons why they shop at Waitrose instead of competing supermarkets. Unfortunately for the U.K. chain, the people were not interested in helping them out or being loyal in any way, shape or form. They actually wanted to basically taunt and tease the grocery store about their ‘high-class’ image. (Example: The sentence: “I shop at Waitrose because…” was followed up with replies like, “I hate poor people.”) Although the supermarket did recover and managed to laugh with the rest of their customers at the failure of the campaign, there were many responses that were extremely offensive.
These two alone would make you assume that the social media teams out there being hired by companies would know NOT to allow people to give their ‘opinion’ about the product and/or company they’re trying to show in a good light. But there were others…even Toyota made an official screw-up by simply annoying one and all instead of appealing to people so that they would then ‘spread the word’ and ‘buzz’ about a contest to win a new car.
Communications is a wonderful thing. And, gosh knows, no matter how horrible a social media campaign gets it will most likely never match the advertising campaign seen decades ago when Disney brought out the ‘Old Yeller’ brand of dog food. (No, not kidding). But when it comes to allowing all that ‘free speech,’ you do need to realize that something like that can most definitely backfire. And unless you have a serious sense of humor, you should definitely stay away from social media campaigns that actually ASK for honest opinions.
It will be interesting to see what 2013 brings!