“Stupid” is Apt Description for this Marketing Idea
Buzz marketing can be an effective way to promote your products and services. A financial institution’s Tell-A-Friend program is an example of good buzz marketing — people talking to people about your product.
Sometimes, unfortunately, marketers come up with buzz marketing ideas that blow up in their faces. You wonder how the people in charge ever approved the idea. Here’s an example from a major corporation that will have you shaking your head.
To promote its Dr. Pepper beverage in the United Kingdom, Coca-Cola’s marketers decided to combine buzz marketing with social media by taking over Facebook. Beginning in May, the company lured entrants to its online Dr. Pepper Status Takeover contest with a chance to win a £1,000 weekly prize. The tagline of the contest was, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Coke and others involved found the answer.
Here’s how the “takeover” element of the plan worked. When individuals clicked to enter the online contest, the contest mechanism posted random, embarrassing status updates on the contestants’ Facebook pages. The posts were sexually suggestive or scatological.
That’s the part that makes you wonder, “What were they thinking?”
When a mother read a pornographic contest-generated post on her young daughter’s Facebook page, the proverbial poop hit the fan. After repeated emails and calls to Coke offices, she complained about the situation on a mothering blog site. I collected the responses to her post as a PDF. Thankfully, I didn’t simply hit the print button or I’d be responsible for killing a tree. The long, long string of sympathetic and outraged responses from other mothers filled 190 pages.
Coke apologized and fired its ad agency that ran the contest. Apparently not in tune with the damage already done and the inappropriateness of the post, Coke officials offered the woman a night in a London hotel with theater tickets. (The family lives in Glasgow.) “Fat lot of use to me,” was her response to the make-good offer. (I’m surprised they didn’t offer the family a year’s supply of Dr. Pepper.)
I’ve encouraged financial marketers to use buzz marketing as an added boost to their regular advertising in their communities. Buzz marketing is proven to be effective. You can find examples of tremendous successes.
This Dr. Pepper example is offered to you as a caution that every buzz marketing idea isn’t the best. It shouldn’t stop you from trying your own buzz marketing ideas, just be sure you plan well, discuss the idea with others, and look for obvious problems the idea might produce.
Be creative, but use common sense.
Here’s another post I wrote that gives a better description and both good and bad examples of buzz marketing.