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Big brands often make the biggest mistakes and end up looking the most out of touch, when they forget one of the biggest rules of the internet: ‘Anonymity breeds trolls’ 

For some reason though, massive advertisers continue to think its a good idea to create campaigns based around a mechanism for a random internet commentor to incorporate whatever words they choose, into the creative of the campaign. 

Interactive advertising, user-generated content, customization, troll-baiting… whatever you want to call it, it’s a bad idea, and here area couple of examples why…

The most recent of these fails was the disastrous National Lottery Twitter campaign which aimed to encourage random internet users to enter their names, which in turn would generate an image of a member of Team GB holding a card with their name magically photo-shopped in. This followed by the line ‘Thanks for your support’ aimed to create a bond between the athletes and their fans by allowing them to see their name immortalised with their heroes.

Instead, the dark and foaming underbelly of the internet decided to do what it always does… hijack something with good intentions for offensive and hateful purposes. Probably more because they thought it was funny, than for any real agenda or opinion. The fact remains however, that the National Lottery Twitter feed ended up thanking Josef Fritzl for his support and decrying the McCanns as killers.

Not cool internet, but also; bad move National Lottery.

Not long before though, Walkers did the exact same thing. (which begs the question why the National Lottery didn’t see this coming…) 

With their ‘Walkers Wave’ campaign, users could submit selfies which would appear in a video clip with Gary Lineker. The idea was to curry support ahead of the Real Madrid and Juventus final and make it look like fans were in the stadium for the big game.

Unfortunately, the colossal monster at the centre of the internet formed out of hate-spewing, sweaty youtube commentors jumped on board and posted photos of Rolf Harris and Harold Shipman. All of this appearing as though it was content direct from the Walker’s marketing team.

Yikes.

Even earlier than these two (and begging yet more questions about how Walkers and the National Lottery fell down this hole of stupid) was the Coca Cola ‘Gif Maker’ which invited users to overlay a ‘feeling’ of their own writing, on top of short movie clips saved as gifs. The idea was to see what ‘feelings’ the general public associated with their eponymous product. Unfortunately, we ended up with a breakdancing man in a shark costume overlaid with ‘my parents are divorced’ and a hand pouring a glass of refreshing Coca Cola, subtitled with ‘prepare your insulin’.

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I would argue that these were actually quite funny and less hate-filled and may have taken the campaign in brand new but still viral direction, but either way it was not what Coke had planned.

Don’t trust the internet. Don’t trust people. Don’t trust the frothing mass of barely human neckbeards that sit poised at their keyboards, waiting for your next marketing slip-up. 

You have a marketing department. Use it.

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