Social media seems like such a simple and innocent thing. Write something funny. Post it. People enjoy it, share it and it’s good advertising.
Turns out social media is actually a minefield of hidden dangers. One wrong move and it blows up in your face.
This week’s mine sweeper is Mars Candy, specifically the Snickers bar in the UK. It began with a strange series of Tweets from Maxim model Katie Price. It’s Tweeter so remember to read from the bottom up.
Who knew Miss Price had such an interest in international finance? Apparently, no one because fans soon started question whether the celeb’s Twitter had been hacked?
Soon after, another set of Tweets:
The photo shows Katie with a Snickers bar. If you don’t get the joke right away, you’re not alone. Let me spell it out. Before eating a Snickers, Katie was hungry and so she wasn’t herself – she was smart and concerned with global issues. Then she ate the Snickers bar and went back to being (with apologies to Miss Price) her usual, dumb, uncaring self. Is there any other way to interpret the ad?
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The concept is insulting, but Snickers isn’t the first company to sell their brand using a questionable campaign and they won’t be the last. That’s not what got them in trouble. What bit them, was the lack of clarity that all of the Tweets were part of an ad.
Snickers ran similar, though not quite as insulting, campaigns with boxer Amir Khan, footballer Rio Ferdinand and others. Fans were not happy but in an odd way the Tweets did what they were intended to do, they got people talking and thinking about Snickers in the UK. Will it help sales? Let’s hope so.
Mars and the celebs are facing the possibility of paying out huge fines for deceptive advertising. According to The Daily Mail, a formal investigation has been launched to decide if the campaign broke the rules. Specifically, should the teaser Tweets have ad hashtags and was the final tag of #spon, clear enough?
Obviously, including the ad hashtag on the teasers would have ruined the joke. The irony of the whole incident is, this is Twitter, and were it not for the uproar, this campaign would have been over and done with by now. Katie Price often Tweets 5 to 10 posts a day. At that rate, the Snickers ad would have been off the front page in under week.
I understand that consumers have a right to truth in advertising, but we’re not talking about the safety features of a car seat. We’re talking about a celebrity promoting a candy bar that they probably won’t even eat. (Katie’s photo shows her pointed to a sealed bar.) Anyone who runs out to buy a Snickers because Katie implied she liked them doesn’t need legal protection, they need a life.
Allow me to borrow from Katie’s own hashtag — big fines for a bad joke? #comeonguys!