So you're a global sports brand looking to use high-profile endorsements to boost visibility on your new product range.
Sounds easy, right? However, Puma has been left red-faced after its latest attempt at social media marketing in an attempt to outdo its rivals backfired spectacularly.
The company invited followers to tweet their favour Puma-sponsored stars with a personalized message, which would then be returned to them in the form of a sleek, autographed photo.
Social media fail
It didn't take long before avid Twitter users spotted an error in the automated system – that the company would respond to the Twitter handle regardless of its name – and exploited it for their own good.
This lead to a few humourous and embarrassing pictures being sent out, including one from Germany footballer Marco Reus saying 'Cocaine, couldn't do it without you' and another from Colombian international Radamel Falcao saying 'Liverpool are w**k. Fans like you are behind every win.' Moreover, Cesc Fabregas' picture came with the slogan 'I Spread Ebola'.
While it did generate a lot of attention for Puma, as major news organizations across the world picked up the story, it wasn't exactly the right kind of attention and comes as the brand is launching a major new advertising campaign.
Featuring Usain Bolt, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli among others, it comes with the hashtag #ForeverFaster and seeks to differentiate the brand from competitors such as Nike and Adidas.
Brand image and reputation play a big role in the sports apparel industry, as companies seek to use positive reviews as a means of spreading the word. A 2013 study by BrightLocal found that 79 per cent of consumers viewed online reviews with the same level of trust as personal recommendations.
With the increasing growth of social media, it has never been more important to pay attention to what customers are saying. However, this doesn't mean they shouldn't react if what they are saying is rude!
Flock to unlock
While the media storm over the marketing fail will eventually blow over, what's worse is the fact it comes at a time when Puma has actively been using Twitter to engage its followers. If enough were talking about the brand on the social media channel, it was going to reveal an exclusive portion of a new advert.
This is under Twitter's new 'Flock to unlock' feature, which incentivizes followers to spread a brand's message by retweeting a tweet to unlock exclusive content.
It could have been worse for Puma, though, as all of the offending tweets were in English, meaning its international audience might not find out about the mistake. Suffice to say, the marketing team will be thinking long and hard before introducing any new campaigns!
Posted by Puma’s brand reputation has suffered after a misjudged Twitter marketing campaign left the company looking foolish.