Not a good look, Woolies
Posted by tallulahlucy
The Woolworths social media campaigns are often used as case studies, as examples of excellence for the rest of the social media world to work towards. It therefore came as quite a shock to me to see such a disaster unfolding on Tuesday evening.
I follow Woolworths on Facebook and usually in the late afternoons while waiting to leave work I have a browse through my newsfeeds. Yesterday this is what I saw staring up at me like something out of a horror movie:
Checking the comments it seemed like all Woolies’ other fans felt the exact same way I did:
“Absolutely shocking!! And we wonder why so many beautiful young girls are making themselves sick and starving themselves.. This should not be allowed!! I think it is shocking!!”
“Is Woolworth’s promoting anorexia. Its ad campaigns like this that make young girls feel inferior and starve themselves. This is not a good image to be putting out there. I’m absolutely shocked.”
“I agree with the comments below this campaign is off putting to not only the range but the brand as well”
Now one would think with such a strong outpouring of rage from one’s target market, Woolworth’s would remove the campaign and issue an apology? Right? I mean that’s social media 101. First you respond to consumers and tell them you understand, and then you take action.
Woolworth’s responded to the concerns by explaining:
WOOLWORTHS SA Hi all, please note that this is not the first time we have received this response to this particular campaign. All related feedback has been noted and will be passed on to the relevant teams to be taken into consideration for future Woolies campaigns. We appreciate your concern and your taking the time to get in touch.
So what you’re saying is
1. People have already reacted badly to this campaign and yet you’re still running it
2. You’re only going to take feedback into consideration for future campaigns, not this one.
In a comment a little further on the feed, Woolworth’s added that the complaints had been received a week ago. A WEEK?
So let me stop for a second to ponder something. Mistakes happen. We know this. Perhaps no one of sound mind looked at the proofs before you posted. By telling your followers you received complaints a week ago you are basically saying “Yes, we heard you. We don’t really care. It wasn’t a mistake. We like the campaign. We’re keeping it.”
Which is of course the way you had to do things in the old days. I mean when you’ve sent ads into magazines weeks or months in advance or booked time on TV and already spent a fortune producing an advert to run during prime time. Perhaps it still has to be the case in the stores – they can’t very well rip down posters, can they?
But social media is different. Every single person who comments about this campaign has the power to alert other people about it and about the fact that you are supporting eating disorders. Which means that every hour this campaign is up, more people are finding out about it. Online, reaction time is everything. It could very easily turn into a disaster for your brand in a matter of hours – as we saw with DurexSA earlier this week when its Twitter account was spewing sexist jokes.
The nice thing about social media is that you do have the power to halt a campaign half-way through. You do have the ability to pull the content. Which is why I’m incredibly confused as to why instead of doing so with this campaign that was receiving such strong negative feedback, Woolworth’s instead decided to REPOST IT. That’s right – screw the customer.
The customer who has a voice, and it is saying:
“From what I can see, the pics from this campaign were posted only 4 hours ago. If there was negative reaction previously to this campaign then why post it? Do you really think the money paid for this campaign is worth more than the negative publicity? Arrogance to the extreme!!!”
“WW are trying to milk this ad campaign using all channels, came out in print last week, now in social media, same reaction, the models are bad role “models” for the WW brand, what next?”
“WOOLWORTHS SA, your response indicates that you couldn’t care less what the consumer wants; you’ve bought into an abusive ad campaign and your’e going to run it till it’s over. Great way to send customers elsewhere. Great marketing.”
Oh dear, oh dear Woolworths. What on Earth are you thinking?
Reading between the lines, it seems that while your customer has a voice, your social media people don’t. They’ve been appointed to mop up the mess, but are not able to do anything to prevent it from getting worse and worse.
Someone there really misunderstands social media.
Which is ironic considering Woolworth’s head of online goes to many social media events talking about strategy. Perhaps she should spend more time teaching her own company?
Social media is wonderful because it lets your brand get direct feedback, in real time, from your consumer base. The whole reason behind having someone monitoring the account is that you can effect change when something goes wrong. Immediately.
The idea that these poor social media sods have to wait until long after the poo has hit the fan and then do a post-campaign debriefing strikes me as completely crazy.
So, while the Woolworth’s brand is suffering a gigantic blow it has the power to stop, instead it’s got its social media people gagged and bound behind their desks?
Not a good look, Woolies.
Let that be a warning to all of us in the social media biz – have policies in place for disaster management. And if the higher-ups don’t understand? Print out this example for them.
I guess Woolworth’s continues to be a good case study for us, ironically.
About tallulahlucyI'm a geeky girl working in social media, a statistically proven loud mouth and enjoy thinking way too much.
Posted on November 30, 2011, in Social Networking, South Africa, The Internet and tagged advertising, brand management, campaign, case study, fail, social media, woolworths. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.