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Facebook Marketing Stunt Backfires

Molson brewing company has pulled a promotion on Facebook after complaints that they promote binge drinking. They ran a photo contest targeting 19-24 year old college students.

Called the The Molson Canadian Nation Campus Challenge the ad said, “Be the #1 party school in Canada” and says that the school with the most pictures uploaded would win a trip for five people to spend spring break in Cancun, Mexico.

The next line said: “Show everyone how you and your crew get the party started!” Then it listed the top 10 party schools.Universities and parents both contacted the company to complain. Xavier University administrator Joe MacDonald, who is the dean of students said: “This is not something that is welcome within our campus community.”

I just checked and Molson Canada’s Facebook group has 17,567 members and they sponsor events on campuses. The contest was ended a week early.
Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland won but officials are checking to make sure the students in the photos are not underage. For most of Canada that means at least 19.

A Molson spokesman said they wanted to show school spirit not encourage drinking. They had over 200 photos submitted but none are viewable.
Molson Coors is the third-largest U.S. brewer behind Anheuser-Busch Cos. and SABMiller Plc.

Social media is sometimes trusted more than traditional media, especially on sites like Facebook. Marketers have to learn the unique dynamics of each community. Molson has been experimenting with different social media pieces, and have a blog about their community giving.

Some companies have got it right (Andy talked about how Nike and Dell get it but Apple doesn’t in this post), and larger brands sometimes struggle. Take Threadless for example. You know you’re doing things right when your customers market for you (like this blog started by someone who loves the company: http://www.lovesthreadless.com/).

If you’re thinking about marketing on Facebook, check out these tips from a previous post: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/10/tips-to-marketing-on-facebook.html