Before answering to the third question of the FAQ (Are there examples of 2.0 initiatives made by traditional brands that went totally out of hand?), I’d like to quote Steven who told me to “remember that in classical marketing things go wrong as well.”. I totally agree to that and I also remind that the conversation is happening anyway (look at this example about KFC or this one – probably the most famous -about Dell)
It’s maybe due to a gap in my internet culture but I must say that I don’t know a lot of big “marketing 2.0” goofs or disasters. Of course, there are initiatives that seem not to work, like the pioneer viral campaign (in this case, I think the agency made some beginner mistakes) but few cases where a brand has been harmed.
If an advertiser asks me about the flops, I answer with 2 cases:
– The first is Vichy France who launched in 2005 a fake blog called “Le journal de ma peau” (the diary of my skin) combined with a severe moderation of the comments. The bloggers noticed rappidly that this was a fake and started to bitch about the Vichy blog. Eventually, the blog was removed and Vichy had to present apologies to the bloggers community for trying to fool them. But Vichy managed to take advantage of the crisis by creating a real blog and by sending samples to influential bloggers. Thanks to that, the negative buzz became a pretty positive buzz.
– The second case is the Chevy Tahoe online ad contest. This case shouldn’t be regarded as a flop but the contest attracted a lot of (now censored) spoofs widely spreaded on video sharing websites. If you look at the classical metrics, they are very positive. Chevrolet SUV sales took off with double digit figures and they gained significant market shares. It maybe thanks to the environment-friendly message that Chevrolet realized there was a product answer to the critics.
As a conclusion, I really love what Frank Rose wrote in wired:
Brands that once yelled at us now ask what we have to say. No longer content to define our identity (Gap kids, the Marlboro man), they ask us to help define theirs. But none of this is stranger than the idea that you can sell a product by sitting back and letting people put their own spin on it. “Everybody says they want to hear from consumers,” Kogler says. Well, be careful what you ask for: Now they won’t shut up.
Dialogue and feedback are always a blessing for a marketer. IMHO, it’s not even a big issue if there are critics or negative reactions as far as the brand can react in an appropriate way and transform feedback in a better value proposition.