Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When the Web Strikes Back

Corporate advertising types love to talk about viral marketing these days and it seems they’ll stoop to whatever they have to do to make their stuff “go viral”. But what happens when the web takes the message out of the advertisers’ hands? Well sometimes the results are terrifically bad.

Chevy Tahoe Create Your Own Ad
Chevy created a user generated advertising platform for a campaign for the Tahoe. Things went wrong when users started making ads critical of the big car maker’s fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Dove’s Onslaught Backlash
Unilever’s success with socially responsible Dove viral ads found resistance when a youtube user made a mashup of the Dove ads and some of Unilever’s Axe commercials, which many consider sexist.

Starbucks’ Free Iced Coffee Promotion
The coffee chain sought to entice friends and family of employees to come into the store for free iced coffee, but when word got out about the offer and the respones was bigger than expected, corporate headquarters nixed the promotion.

Fake Sony Blog
Sony hired an outside company to create a fake astrotuff blog called “All I want for Christmas is a PSP” to help sell more of the hand held media devices. When they were outed they faced huge public backlash.

The Starwars Kid
A teen boy used his school camera to record himself doing a ridiculous lightsaber fighting routine. When his friend’s found the video and posted it to the web, it became a sensation. Scores of mashups, remixes and enhancements flooded the web. Stephen Colbert even released his own version.

Kryptonite Lock Picking
When an internet user posted a video to the web demonstrating how easily kryptonite locks could be picked with a regular ball point pen, the company refused to respond for days afterwards. Again, the company faced an enormous online backlash.

Walmart’s Fake Blog
Walmart hired PR firm Edelman who created an astrotuff blog allegedly written by average working families to counteract the bad public image the mega chain has suffered from for years. When the blog was outed as a fake it further damaged Walmart (and Edelman’s) shaky reputation.

Dan Zarrella
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