Going Viral Might Destroy Your Company

One of the few things our diverse list of clients has in common is the desire to have something go “viral.” As marketers, this is a phrase that sends chills up our spines and keeps us up at night. For most brands, going viral will be a catalyst to a massive uptick in sales and an increase in public attention. But for one brand, it might end their business before it even got started.

On Wednesday, you probably saw an image of an unidentifiable woman by a pool in a red one piece bathing suit. Users that shared the post and tagged the brand Sunny Co. Clothing in the following 24 hours were told they would get the $65 “Pamela” bathing suit for free, just having to pay shipping and handling. What felt like a surefire way to gain some social following, sell some swimsuits and possibly build brand ambassadors had already backfired before it started.

Quickly realizing that the only stipulation in the rules were that users had to be in the continental US, two hours later Sunny Co. added a post reserving the right to limit the number of entries. But it was too late. By now they already had tens of thousands of entries and 338k fans on Instagram.

To make matters worse, Instagram and Twitter was full of users complaining about the red bathing suit posts cluttering their personal newsfeed and began an anti-Sunny Co. movement. To continue to pile on, the code customers were given was not working and people were being charged full price for the swimsuit. So basically, the entire internet was pissed. But do you think it stopped there? Of course not.

Sunny Co. Clothing decided to do the opposite of what we tell our clients to do and went into scared turtle mode and shut down. It removed the post from its social media channels and stopped responding to angry customer’s requests for help. Because as we are all taught at a young age, ignoring a problem absolutely makes it go away.

So, to recap; the brand “gave” away all their inventory of “Pamela” bathing suits, angered potential customers by not processing the orders correctly, will have heavy delays in shipping and ignored customers when they were experiencing problems. All of this because the initial post did not include a stipulation about limiting the number of entries.

So what did we learn?

  1. Always double and triple check your posts, especially if you are giving something away.
  2. If you realize you have messed up own it as quickly as possible.
  3. When the crap hits the fan don’t run and hide.

If you want to ask them first-hand about how this viral moment damaged their business and reputation feel free to reach out directly to Sunny Co. Clothing. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from them.