Promotions and contests are a popular marketing tool used by most companies. You see promotions everywhere from on-line games on Facebook to win gift cards to getting your quarter in the shot glass for a free milkshake. It’s a simple tool that can drive business sales.
But what happens when social media turns against you? That’s what happened tonight to Papa Johns. Their most recent promotion is the Papa John’s Coin Toss. Papa John’s encouraged their customers to vote on whether the coin in the coin toss at Super Bowl XLVI would land on heads or tails. If American guessed correctly, those enrolled in Papa Rewards would receive a free pizza and bottle of Pepsi MAX. America chose Heads (60% of the votes) and that is what it landed on. They announced they would send an e-mail on Monday the 6th (today) with a code for rewards members to use to redeem their freebies. Earlier today they made another announcement saying people should check their e-mail accounts at 4 pm EST. And when 4 pm EST came and left, people were unhappy. I tracked #freepapajohns on TweetDeck and America spoke – and they were not happy. People went from simply asking if they were going to e-mail to saying they would just order from Pizza Hut instead to a few threatening to sue the company! Eventually some customers received their Papa Rewards code. (I, unfortunately, have not. Papa Johns? Bueller? Bueller?)
Authors Edit to add: I did receive my rewards code the next day and promptly ordered my free pizza that night. YUM!
This was a great example of how quickly word spreads thanks to social media. All it takes is a small rumble before an all out, angry twitter storm.
Have you seen bad press through social media because of a promotion or contest before?