Social media camapigns

Walkers Crisps get hijacked

Walkers Crisps’ social media campaign was taken down within hours after being hijacked by pranksters. But was this so bad? Would the campaign have generated anywhere near as much interest if it hadn’t gone wrong?

Many of you may have seen the doomed social media campaign from Walkers (known as Lays in Europe) that was taken down within hours after being hijacked by pranksters.

The competition involved users responding to a tweet with a picture of themselves and including the hashtag #WalkersWave, in a bid to win Champions League tickets. Whether you won or not, Walkers would then reply with a video of brand champion and former footballer Gary Lineker holding up your picture.

Almost immediately, images of notorious serial killers and high profile sexual predators were appearing on the Walkers feed. It appears that many thought it worth forfeiting the opportunity to win the tickets in favour of lampooning the competition.

There are several lessons here: first, if you give the online community the opportunity to modify or personalise anything connected with your brand then be prepared to run with what follows. Secondly, accept that there will always be some risk that your social media campaign will be misused – for example, #lidlsurprises has been used by customers to highlight rotten veg bought from its store as well as quality food, but this hasn’t stopped it from being a success and the company has stood by it. Finally, if you are at risk of a negative backlash then act fast: take it down, delete any inappropriate tweets and offer an apology.

But was this so bad? Sure, Walkers had to take down the competition and issue an apology to anyone offended, and no doubt a lot of effort had gone into the campaign and whatever technology was behind it. But would the campaign have generated anywhere near as much interest if it hadn’t gone wrong?

We’ll never know of course, however Walkers will be relieved that it hasn’t resulted in the kind of reaction that was generated by the recent Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner. This because Pepsi patronised its followers and was perceived to use the Black Lives Matter campaign for profit, while Walkers were guilty of nothing more than being naive enough to think that the world of social media would play nicely.

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