UPDATE 19:30: Walkers has released a statement, saying: “We recognise people were offended by irresponsible and offensive posts by individuals, and we apologise. We are equally upset and have shut down all activity.”
A Walkers campaign has been hijacked by consumers on social media, after the brand asked people to upload a selfie to potentially win tickets to the Champion’s League final.
The #WalkersWave campaign allows consumers to tweet in a picture, after which a video is created automatically on the Walkers Twitter feed showing Gary Lineker holding up their picture and showing the individual doing a Mexican wave.
However, instead of uploading selfies people have been sending in pictures of notorious killers and sex offenders, including Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris.
The brand has since started deleting the videos. Marketing Week approached Walkers for comment but did not receive a response before the publication of this article.
Despite Walkers’ embarrassment, there should be no long-term damage to the brand, according to Jo Allison, consumer behavioural analyst at Canvas8.
“Many people actually enjoy it when brands make mistakes and there is certainly a lot of buzz online right now revelling in the failing of Walkers to see this coming,” she says.
“It’s certainly highly embarrassing for those behind the campaign but it would be foolish to think this will do any long-term brand damage. The absurdity lies in the naivety of the brand and not any malicious intent from Walkers. Most people will recognise that.”
Walkers is not the only brand to have had a viral campaign hijacked. Last year, the Natural Environment Research Council’s competition to let the public name its new boat led to the most popular suggestion of ‘Boaty McBoatface’. Unsurprisingly, the brand decided against the name.
In 2012, Waitrose also invited ridicule on social media when it challenged tweeters to finish the sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because…’, leading to mockery about the brand’s posh image.