As a marketing student, one of things I’ve learned is that the quote “any publicity is good publicity” is definitely not true. Publicity is not always a good thing. Especially when its publicity that the brand doesn’t want. Here’s an example:
In December 2006, tech-super company Sony was gearing up for another successful Christmas period for selling their first ever portable console, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The console had been on the market for a year already, but the hype around it was still huge. One of the sources of all this hype was a fan-made internet blog “alliwantforxmasisapsp.com”. The blog appeared to be run by two Sony super fans who were VERY excited about the PSP. They routinely posted information and made cringe-worthy ads (including a rap) about the console.
Here’s the problem, the site wasn’t made by fans. It instead was site created by Zipatoni, a marketing company hired by Sony to create a marketing campaign for the console. When this revelation was discovered by consumers, Sony had to come clean announcing that it had been one big digital publicity stunt.
As can be expected when consumers find they’ve been lied to by a company, there was HUGE backlash! The company’s honesty, authenticity and integrity was put to serious question all over the internet, with consumer’s feeling betrayed by the company they had once trusted. The actual quality of the PSP was second guessed as well, because if Sony lied about who was making the blog, what’s to say they haven’t lied about what’s on it as well.
All in all, this publicity was not good for Sony or their console. While it may have seemed a good idea at the time, consumers seldom enjoy being tricked or deceived by brands.
So have you seen any digital marketing campaigns or stunts that have resulted in bad publicity recently? If so, what were they?