More Hijacked Twitter Campaigns

This week, two more attempts to engage people on Twitter have backfired. Following McDonald's and RIM's recent failures, Newsweek and Waitrose, a British supermarket, join the list of tweets gone awry. 

Newsweek tried to generate conversation about its front-page story, "Muslim Rage," a provocative piece in itself. With the hashtag, #MuslimRage, Newsweek's online site, Daily Beast, invited people to tweet about the cover story.

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The result was not what Newsweek hoped for. Although the hashtag was trending, people made a joke of the it.

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Newsweek has been criticized as a "troll"-intentionally started a heated debate for the sake of publicity. One critic tweeted, "Best way to deal with trolls: Silence. Second-best: mockery, e.g., #muslimrage." The Associated Press reported this response from the magazine: 

"Newsweek spokesman Andrew Kirk said the magazine's covers and hashtags 'bring attention and spark debate around topics of major global importance. The Internet is an open forum for people to continue their own discussion.'"

Upscale supermarket Waitrose tried a similar tactic to engage conversation about the brand, using the hashtag #Waitrosereasons.


Again, some tweets supported the brand, but most were sarcastic.

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Waitrose responded with several gracious, good-natured tweets.

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Analysis of the campaign is mixed: the hashtag certainly promoted Waitrose's name and got people talking, so in this case, was it a failure?

Discussion Starters:

  • Where's the line between generating discussion and inciting controversy for the sole objective of sales? Did Newsweek cross this line?
  • Read more of the #Waitrosereasons tweets. Would you characterize the campaign as a failure?