Very British Social Media: Walker’s Wave
We’re not trolls… we are British!
Last week, Walker’s Wave campaign went viral. Sadly for Walker’s UK marketing team, the campaign success was not for reasons which will win the brand any industry awards. Almost every news outlet who reported on the campaign fail – from the digital industry and mainstream media, including The Drum, the BBC, Marketing Week, CNN and the FT, all used the word “hijack”. Indeed, so did I in my tweet, when I first heard of the story via Mashable UK, by Sasha Lekach.
Mashable UK described the campaign:
Walkers [… ] started a social media campaign Thursday, asking fans who wanted to win tickets, to tweet a selfie with the #WalkersWave hashtag.
The tweets were turned into a video of [former football player] Gary Lineker, waving the “selfies” in front of the background of a stadium.
Note: the use of inverted commas, in the second mention of the word “selfies” – if you missed the story last week, this might give you some idea of what happened next.
But trolls quickly realized the selfies weren’t being closely vetted before getting on screen, so everyone from serial killers to convicted felons to communist dictators made it onto the site with the sportscaster unwittingly waving the disturbing faces.
Hijack? Trolls? Steady On!
The Mashable UK article which reported the Walker’s Waves hijack, referred to those who had sent photos of criminals, as “trolls”. Now, steady on! A troll attacks the vulnerable, seeking to make themselves feel stronger, by pushing others down – it is an expression of insecurity and is hateful. There is nothing hateful about what happened with Walkers Waves – some people might have been offended – which of course, is a regrettable effect, for which Walkers have apologised and cancelled the campaign immediately.
Calling what happened to Walker’s Crisps a “hijack”, seems to place the onus entirely on the British social media audience – surely the brand must share responsibility for what happened here.
Very British Social Media
We all remember Boaty McBoat Face. The #nameourship campaign by the Natural Environment Research Council, aimed to crowdsource suggestions for the £200 million polar research vessel.
This is a perfect example of how the British social media audience, joined forces behind a common purpose in a humorous hijack. This hijack also generated the additional benefit of huge reach and exposure, for some very worthy causes.
The NERC thanked everyone who voted and shared, filtered the user generated content and made the appropriate choice. The ship, launching in 2019, has been officially named: RRS Sir David Attenborough. The name chosen is “a fitting tribute to a man who has done so much to explain the wonders of the natural world to all of us. The name Boaty McBoat face will live on as the name of the ship’s high-tech remotely operated subsea vehicle.”.
What Happened To Walker’s
Walker’s is household name – it is a huge corporation with budgets and shoulders to match. By turning up the volume of this UGC campaign, and taking it to a mass media audience – the brand relinquished the relative protection of operating among real fans and missed the crucial step of curating the appropriate UGC to be featured in the videos with Gary Lineker.
The #WalkersWave campaign stirred some inherent British characteristics – our love of banter, wordplay and sarcasm, mixed with our wish to be seens as creative and clever. Perhaps the Walker’s Wave marketing team should have remembered what happened to Waitrose, when they asked their audience to take part in the hashtag: #IshopatWaitrosebecause.
Let it not be said, the British audience cannot be trusted with UGC campaigns – Walker’s presented an irresistible opportunity for a very powerful British Social Media response.
I welcome your comments about the Walker’s Wave campaign hijack – talk to me on Twitter @GertrudeandIvy