It’s true that a life without mistakes is a life not truly lived- but we can be sure the Kellogg’s marketing department could have lived without promising to feed hungry children in exchange for retweets. As 2013 draws to a close, we look as some of the biggest digital marketing fails of the year, from the horsemeat scandal and HMV’s live-blogged mass sackings to Facebook’s ‘Home’ flop and the Xbox ‘deal with it’ Twitter outburst. Read on, learn from the mistakes and hope your team doesn’t make the list in 2014….
Microsoft Creative Director Adam Orth has resigned after posting flippant remarks on Twitter over the Xbox 720’s controversial 'always-online' rumours, telling frustrated customers to ‘deal with it”. Last week, Orth took to Twitter to discuss the rumour that the next Xbox will require an always online connection, claiming he didn't know what all the fuss was about. "Every device is now 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit," he tweeted. Responding to concerns that not all areas have reliable internet connections, (such as Janesville or Blacksburg) limiting the console’s use, Orth went on to retort “Why on earth would I live there?”
Tesco has become the butt of social media jokes this week, after it was revealed the supermarket was among several to stock burgers containing horse meat. The Irish food safety authority FSAI found that Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers contained 21.9% horse meat. Other brands, including products sold in Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores, were also found to contain 0.1% to 0.3% of horse DNA.
Disgruntled employees at HMV have turned to Twitter to report on mass sackings at the firm, hijacking an official account to describe a "mass execution of loyal employees who love the brand". Using one of HMV’s official Twitter accounts ‘HMV Tweets’, staff took to tweeting live from the retailers’ HR department as 60 employees were being sacked after the company fell into administration last month.
Kellogg's has been forced to apologise after offering to exchange retweets for breakfasts for vulnerable children. The cereal manufacturer posted “1RT=1 breakfast for a vulnerable child” this month as part of its Give a Child a Breakfast campaign. The message was immediately attacked for cynically trying to squeeze advertising from starving children.
Last month, whisky brand Maker’s Mark reduced its alcohol proof from 90% to 84%, sparking outcry as customers flocked to Facebook and Twitter to discuss ‘watered-down whisky’ and switching to rival brands. After nine days of social media, national newspaper and TV coverage, the brand was forced into an extraordinary U-turn. This case study from Gemma Storey at Carrot Communications takes a day-by-day look at how the crisis unfolded for the premium bourbon brand and how it could have managed things differently.
Google has admitted its YouTube site has become riddled with spam after it switched to compulsory Google+ logins from users to comment on videos. The internet giant came under fire last month as it ditched standard YouTube profiles for Google+ accounts, in a bid to boost engagement on its social network. YouTube has now acknowledged that its new comments experience, which launched just two weeks ago, has garnered much feedback from creators. But it's not good feedback, with creators noticing an unfavourable increase in comment spam.
In a stark warning to fact-checkers everywhere, a Wikipedia article detailing a 17th century war between Portugal and India has been deleted after being debunked as an elaborate hoax. For the last five years, the article has existed on Wikipedia, detailing a brief war between colonial Portugal and India’s Maratham Empire known as the ‘Bicholim Conflict.’
When Domino’s employees were caught on YouTube defiling a pizza, the company took less than 3 weeks to claw back a 22% drop in customer sentiment. However, when Nestle and United Airlines suffered setbacks, the brands took considerably longer to recover. This infographic from software and consultancy firm SDL Social Intelligence looks at all three case studies and charts the ‘fail trail’ as companies recover from a social media crisis.
Facebook has postponed the European launch of its ‘First’ smartphone following disappointing US sales and negative feedback. The handset, made by HTC, runs Facebook's enhanced Home interface, designed to be more integrated into the smartphone than a normal app. UK mobile operator EE confirmed that "following customer feedback" the Europe launch had been stalled.
An Australian online shopping site has apologised for using the bush fire crisis in Tasmania to try to build the number of followers for its Facebook page. In an announcement on Facebook, Sellitonline.com.au promised to donate electricity generators to help those in Tasmania without power… but only if there were enough likes for its page. It posted a message saying: “What we need you do do is get everyone of your friends to join sellitonline Facebook page and the more people we get will determine how many generators we donate.”
Games giant Electronics Arts has been forced to apologise for a disastrous launch of the latest version of town-planning title SimCity, offering a free game as a means of compensation. Unlike all other versions of SimCity, the latest requires gamers to remain online while they play, as each city they construct sits on a chunk of virtual territory shared with other players. But the launch suffered from too few servers and poor forward planning. Since the game launched on 5th March, the online computers that co-ordinate play have been regularly overwhelmed. Gamers have reported long queues to play, bugs and other glitches.
This week’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans’ looked into the murky world of ‘click farms’- offering a warning to brands tempted to buy success on social media.
Watch a trailer for the programme here:
Burger King has become the latest high-profile brand to fall prey to hackers, as its Twitter account was hijacked, resulting in its logo being switched to McDonalds and a tirade of offense tweets being sent out to its followers.
NOTE- some fails actually help. In this instance Burger King got 30,000 extra followers as a result of the hack
See infographic below: