Crisis management has become a major challenge for brands, from PepsiCo’s internal agency missing the mark with the Kendall Jenner commercial to the backlash from Burger King’s commercial in Belgium. The latest lesson in how to handle such a crisis (or how not to create it in the first place) comes from Walkers, a potato chip brand in the U.K. whose Twitter campaign was hijacked by trolls.
Last week, the Walkers campaign asked fans to submit selfies in the hope of winning tickets to the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff. However, many instead submitted images of famous criminals, which were automatically tweeted by the brand account.
The Walkers campaign highlights the challenge of promoting UGC while remaining in control of the brand message. Other brands have dealt with this challenge by curating content, rather than sharing it live. For example, Hotel brands including Starwood and Hyatt create specific “guest galleries” with property-specific images sorted into categories such as dining and rooms. Thus, they are able to gain the benefits of UGC (signal authenticity and resonate with consumers) while also maintaining editorial control of content.
When mistakes do happen, it’s key for brands to address them as quickly as possible. After the Walkers team realized that the image submissions weren’t being vetted correctly, they followed Scott Galloway’s advice and took ownership of the issue. The brand not only apologized on Twitter, but overcorrected by removing every trace of the campaign on social media – a key step in crisis management.