Wow. I don’t think any company has ever misread the public mood quite as badly as Qantas did today. Their social media people should probably have learned some sort of lesson from the Radike Samo fiasco back in August. That was a previous Twitter comp where they picked two white guys in blackface costumes as their winners – and the Twitterverse condemned them. Now, I have a little bit of sympathy there – because the white guys clearly weren’t racist – they simply loved a rugby player who happened to have a different coloured skin, so naturally, to dress up like him they painted their faces… anyway. It should have been a lesson to Qantas that Twitter campaigns need to be handled with care – or they can blow up, and create negative media attention.
The percentage of Australians who are active Twitter users, and who understand the medium, is quite small, compared to the percentage of Australians who still get their news via a mix of traditional media – ie the people who will read the stories about how badly Qantas screwed this campaign up. Apparently they’ve had more than 30,000 negative tweets in the last few weeks – this isn’t the way to fix it.
Seriously. What on earth were they thinking. Their brand is so incredibly unpopular right now, and the uncertainty about their strike stuff still hasn’t gone away, and they’re giving away luxury pyjamas?
The “offending item”… via @QantasAirways
That in itself is questionable. But to do it by asking for your company to trend on Twitter with a pretty spurious hash tag (let’s face it “luxury” isn’t going to be high on the list of Qantas word association game options right now) in the midst of one of the biggest brand meltdowns in Australian corporate history is playing with fire. And if you play with fire… well… you know…
This happens… and then the story becomes how badly you botched your marketing, as well as how badly you botch flying your planes.
When your CEO is being visually compared with Hitler, and thousands of people are laughing at you, and hundreds of thousands are reading about how bad your marketing is, your marketing campaign has failed.