Worst Social Media Campaigns of 2011

Two days ago I attended the Suxorz awards at the Gershwin Hotel in NYC. It was perhaps the most fun I have had learning and sharing about Social Media Faux Pas is a while. So here is a run down of the best of the worst presented by the panel comprising: David Berkowitz – Vice President of Emerging Media, 360i; Brian Morrissey, Editor-in-Chief, Digiday; BL Ochman  – Senior Creative Technologist, AFS Intercultural Programs; and Twanna A Hines – Author.

While, the panel had their own way of segmenting campaigns, I am using a different method. So the campaigns will be labelled under – Corporate Mishaps, Political Failings, What were they thinking, and Fighting Back.

Here we go. Try not to punch the screen, some of these brands and personalities totally lost focus.


Corporate Mishaps

1. Qwikster 

In all his wisdom Reed Hastings introduced the plan for a Netflix spin-off “Qwikster”, which would focus on the DVD business and Netflix on online streaming. Well that probably not the smartest move. Because the Twitter Handle was already taken. Jason Castillo, the semi-coherent, weed-curious high-schooler owned the handle @Qwikster.
Needless to say the Twitterverse had a field day and Jason certainly got a lot of attention. Check out some of Jason’s Tweets, not really a brand ambassador. But what is worse about this is that Netflix failed to do its due diligence. You can read more about this in an earlier post.
2. Ragu and Daddy Bloggers 
Ragu decided to show who was the boss in the kitchen by following a very curious strategy. The company produced videos which had moms talk about how dads couldn’t cook and then decided to @ spam a bunch of daddy bloggers with a link to the same video. Here is an example below and the video. What is infuriating about the campaign is that they identified the wrong target for spreading their message. Why would dads and daddy bloggers be interested in watching a video about how they can’t cook and positively react to your message? Read C.C. Chapman’s reaction to the campaign.
3. Quantas
Hijacking campaigns was a particularly popular theme during Suxorz and this is a particularly good example. QANTAS grounded its entire domestic and international fleets, stranding thousands of passengers due to a lock out with airline unions. Now you would think this is not the best time to run a UGC campaign and have customer show you some love. Well you would be WRONG!! because that is exactly what the brand did.
Qantas invited customers to tweet and tell them what their dream luxury inflight experience is. But the QantasLuxury hashtag, was quickly hijacked by people having a joke at the airline’s expense. Timing really is everything. You can’t just expect customers to react the way you want them to. Read some of the Tweets and one of the many press reports.

 What were they thinking

Now one can argue that all the campaigns listed in this post can be put under this category. But the brands and people specially listed here went above and beyond.
1. Sapient – Idea Engineers
To start with we have Sapient Corp, an interactive and professional services company. As of 2011, it employed over 9015 people around the world. But when a video featuring Sapient employees rapping about how they loved the company went viral, people were naturally suspicious. Take a look:
I am no expert at producing videos for YouTube, but this doesn’t exactly seem like an employee generated low-budget video. Sapient however never admitted to it. According to AdWeek, Sapient’s agency posted the hilariously bad self-promotional music video on Facebook. Moreover, the agency kept deleting comments.  That only made matters worse for Sapient. The video later got posted to YouTube. If you know anything about social media, its be authentic, accept your mistake and never delete user comments.
 2. ChapStick – Be Heard
When you use the Tagline “Be Heard” you dont expect the Brand to delete user comments. But that is what happened. ChapStick posted an image on Facebook (shown below) of a woman looking for her ChapStick behind a couch. Facebook users who saw the picture hate it and reply on Facebook, ChapStick proceeds to delete those comments. This spirals out of control. The more the brand deletes, the more comments are posted. Finally, they give up and go silent and later reply,  read it on AdWeek.
3. Durex South Africa
Part of the fun of attending Suxorz is that the more you hate a campaign, the more you blow your horn.Well I certainty made full use of the complementary horn when I heard of this campaign and so did a lot of people. Making this the winner of Suxorz 2011.
Durex caused quite a controversy with a terrible terrible sex tweet in South Africa. Here it is:
The tweet certainty made an impression with tweeters, bloggers and mainstream media picking up the story and trashing the brand. Durex later issued an apology over an offensive, misogynist tweet apparently sent out by its PR company. This really is an example of how not to use Twitter and think that just because you have a hashtag joke anything goes. Read more about it via MemeBurn.
What do you think of the campaigns listed above? What made them particularly bad in your opinion? Chime in via the comments section.

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