How Walkers' Twitter campaign backfired spectacularly

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How Walkers' Twitter campaign backfired spectacularly

Twitter is a hugely powerful tool for companies to directly interact with users, keep people in the loop and build relationships with their customers. It is also a social media platform that can easily land companies in hot water! Marketing campaigns can get out of control… Fast! Attempts at humour can easily backfire, misusing the platform can invoke outrage and hashtags can be hijacked.

Walkers released a campaign to give their Twitter followers the chance to win tickets to the UEFA Champions League Final. In order to be in with a chance of winning these tickets followers were asked to tweet a selfie to Walkers with the hashtag #WalkersWave. The image was then automatically uploaded and featured in a video alongside Gary Linekar. He then goes onto say “Thanks for joining the Walkers Wave and celebrating the UEFA Champions League final” before holding up a picture of the picture sent in by users.

But, almost inevitably, pranksters online saw the potential and within hours twitter users had flooded the Walkers timeline with images of criminals and hated public figures. How could such a large company let this happen?

Having an automated campaign like this one is a great marketing tool that, if done correctly, gives companies the opportunity to generate a buzz and attention quickly. However, as Walkers have discovered, it can easily backfire when no one checks the images that are being posted, which appears to be what happened in this example. This meant that Twitter users could take advantage and start posting images of anyone and everyone!

What lessons can brands learn from failed Twitter campaigns?

Don’t auto-generate content that is based on other user's content. Merging these two together risks associating your brand with someone or something you and others deem offensive or undesirable. It’s just like lighting a match that will inevitably cause a wildfire! This one mainly comes in light of the Walkers misstep but has also been a big fail for The New England Patriots who did a similar campaign with auto-generated content.

Know the ins and outs of any campaign before going live with it. Take the time to thoroughly research and fully understand what a hashtag means regardless of if it’s trending or not. Always do a search on Twitter of the hashtag you want to use as this will show you if users are using it in a different way or using it to post offensive content.

Don’t jump onto a trending hashtag before fully understanding the content in which it’s been used. While speed is of the essence, you can afford to wait a few minutes to research into why that specific hashtag is trending, then you are less likely to run the risk of seriously offending users.


If you would like to learn more about Twitter and how to use it effectively, get in touch today and we can offer tailored training on this social media platform. Contact us either on 01635 521224 or [email protected].