This week, the National Lottery faced a huge PR disaster when online trolls hijacked their latest #Represent campaign featuring the Team GB athletes. The campaign had it all – famous faces, a hashtag and an easy way for everyone to get involved. But as National Lottery’s marketing team quickly found out, allowing unfiltered user generated content (UGC) rarely ends well.
Directly from the National Lottery account, vile posts flooded the page’s 190k followers’ feeds, causing outrage. While the National Lottery’s social media team reacted quickly, shutting down the campaign as well as removing negative posts and issuing an apology, they should have learned from similar campaigns by other companies. We’ve rounded up some of the worst UGC campaigns that were taken over by the faceless trolls who roam the internet.
Walkers Wave goodbye to good press
One example that should have been fresh in the minds of the National Lottery team is the Walkers debacle in May, when an opportunity to upload a selfie with crisp peddler Gary Lineker ended up with the former England star posing with notorious murderers and other unsavoury characters – not the best look! The campaign website, much like National Lottery’s, was shut down with any trace of it gone from Walker’s social channels, with only an apology remaining.
Share a coke… just not with me
Last year, we all got caught up in one of the most popular campaigns in recent years and found ourselves ransacking shop fridges in the hope of finding our name written on a disposable bottle. Coca Cola’s Share a Coke campaign was a massive success that saw sales rise by 200m units, but for the Covfefes and North Wests of the world, there had to be a way to get their name onto a bottle of sugary goodness.
Enter a fun app on Coca Cola’s website that allowed users to enter any text they desired on a coke label to share as a gif animation and order a physical bottle. While Coca Cola didn’t allow users to post directly from their Twitter account, instead just having a ‘share’ button, the hashtag was soon taken over with many ‘diabeetus’ gifs in protest to rising obesity rates. Since it would take Coca Cola to change their recipe to a mixture of swamp water and tar for people to stop buying the drink, there was very little backlash and the campaign powered on.
Aldi hand out a black card
In case you haven’t played the infamous game Cards Against Humanity, the aim is to complete a sentence or answer a question on a black card by matching white answer cards to create the most harrowing result possible.
Unfortunately for Aldi, this well-known game was the first link many people made, causing their attempt at social media interaction to fall flat. They asked the world to fill in the blank to: “I became an ALDI lover when I tasted BLANK for the first time.”
As we’re sure the words that came to you first included the likes of freshly baked cookies, own-brand pepperamis and a fiver bottle of amaretto, the internet was slightly more crude as the supermarket chain should have predicted.
Probably the best example of the great British public taking over a campaign is the #NameOurShip campaign by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Unfortunately, NERC hadn’t yet researched the natural environment of Twitter and discovered that trolls would take over the campaign and choose to name their new £200m Royal research ship ‘RSS Boaty McBoatface’.
While NERC predictably rejected the result, instead naming the ship ‘RSS Sir David Attenborough’, the name Boaty McBoatface was given to a smaller vehicle carried on the ship, which wins NERC an easy bit of press on occasion.
To cut a long lesson short, asking the internet for help with social media doesn’t always end well.
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