I watch how the big boys play the marketing game. Sometimes I learn stuff and sometimes I am not amused, nor impressed. The recent campaign from TGIFriday’s, its let’s get 500,000 fans on Facebook project, is an example of the latter.
The spots are on YouTube. The television spots are everywhere. Three buddies eating at TGIFriday’s and the announcement is made that if “Woody” collects half-a-million friends on Facebook, everyone gets a free burger. (InsideFacebook has an article on the campaign.) I’m not a burger person but I am responsible for feeding (and feeding and feeding) two growing boys. TGIFriday’s is an acceptable family restaurant. I’m sure I fit the target demographic (i.e. anyone with a few bucks to throw down on dinner for four occasionally.) I have the laptop open right in front of me.
I search on “Fan Woody.” And am immediately greeted with the type of “woody” TGIFriday’s probably didn’t have in mind when it chose that name for a family-friendly campaign. Oh, dear. Add weight loss, a Nigerian Dictator and friendly girls with pictures to share and you have the complete portfolio for a spammer (Note, today you get different results in the Facebook search, including a Woody Allen fan club and “Fan Woody” club with over 2000 members that comes up first and is showing evidence that people don’t realize the free hamburger fan Woody is elsewhere. One comment is “Free food and TGIF’s can only get 2000 fans?” Woody Harrelson also gets the nod, as does Woody Guthrie.)
Since I know a little about Facebook, I type in the specific URL to get to the http://www.facebook.com/fanwoody. I could have also searched on “fanwoody.” (All one word? Who does that?)
Alas, I was too late. TGIFriday’s Woody already had 500,000 fans. But wait. I can still put in my email address. Is this like a TacoBell promotion where everyone in America gets a free taco? We’ll see. Confusion abounds. I’ve heard that now the first million friends get a coupon.
There have been other aspects of this campaign that have also veered off-course. You can read about them here and here. (Other issues include: the confusion factor, Woody is a made-up character, why not just search for the top fan and all that person’s fans get a free burger, the use of social media for marketing.)
From my seat, if you are going to use social media to market to families, make sure your main character’s name doesn’t create an unfortunate non-family-friendly association.