On the Social Media Fail

The lure of successful viral marketing campaigns seems to cloud the judgement of marketers from time to time. This week’s example comes from Facebook and includes a love story of Mark and Audrey.

An insurance company created a story of Mark, a 23-year-old, and Audrey, a 47-year-old and their fight to be together against society’s expectations. They gathered a lot of support leading up to their “wedding day” last Friday, the number of followers today stands at more than 3,000.

Then came the big reveal, a video showing the preparations of a wedding which culminated in a car accident. After which the campaign tagline comes up “Unexpected Things Happen in Life; Be insured to have your loved ones assured”, which is followed by a disclaimer stating that it was a campaign.

The reaction on facebook has been swift and severe, and the company seems to have been overwhelmed by the negative responses, one of their last comments was;

Some posters see this as a great use of social media for a campaign, but most see it as dishonest, trust-destroying and a betrayal.

Walmart faced a similar backlash in 2006 when they sponsored bloggers to travel the country in an RV. In that case Walmart came clean and reveled their sponsorship of the bloggers, they’ve gone on to blog successfully and now list official blogs on their corporate site.

In this case the company hasn’t yet taken ownership of the campaign; making it a whole new level of social media fail.

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