TBS Muse

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TBS Muse provides readers with quick snapshots on topical and weird news that is currently floating around on the internets.

Woolworths – the new #Vodafail ?

Ever wonder what happens in a room full of marketing and ad execs (let’s say, from, ummm, Woolworths, as a random example) focussing on how a campaign could possibly go viral? Read on…


“I know!” one says.

“We put up a meme generator with ‘Lest we forget’…people can participate in the special 100-year commemoration of the ANZACs and share it using our website and we slap on our logo and reuse our ‘Fresh’ buzz word but as in ‘Fresh in our memories’.”

Everyone high fives.

But for the Woolworths peeps things didn’t go quite as planned, with a social media backlash occurring overnight spawning memes with unsettling imagery used with the branding, and hashtags publicly mocking the company for commercialising their association with the Returned Services League.

After Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Donaldson asked Woolworths to remove the offensive campaign website, it was taken down, but the memes and tweets continued to haunt cyberspace.

Since the public backlash, the agency responsible for the #Freshinourmemories fail, Carrspace, has apparently removed Woolworths from their website.

When companies launch a campaign, it is really important for them to look at all possible angles it could be perceived from once it goes to market. Splashing your logo all over the images of fallen soldiers as an attempt to hock how respectful you are may not be totally palatable for the savvy social media voices who are ready to pounce on any campaign lacking authenticity. It is about mitigating this risk that could cause serious damage to all aspects of a business simply due to careless (or perhaps greedy?) campaigning.

Never forget what happened when Susan Boyle launched an album, #Susanalbumparty (awks), or the #MCDStories campaign McDonalds launched back in 2012 in an attempt to have consumers share their feel good stories when eating their food…which quickly it turned into a hijacked hashtag.

One of the companies that have faced the most obvious public backlash in recent times thanks to social media is Vodafone, who we generally think of as #Vodafail now. The Vodafail website and associated backlash against the telco isn’t a standalone event though – in 2010 Vodafone in the UK wanted to seem more friendly, so they launched a #mademesmile campaign which ended up being hijacked by users protesting alleged tax evasion rumours about the company.

The bottom line is, consumers are smart, and we get when an attempt to go viral is made under the guise of a supposed feel-good campaign.

Twitter users CERTAINLY get it – they have spoken and mocked, loudly and creatively.

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