Feb 22, 2019

Accidentally-on-Purpose Digital Marketing #Amazonshitcarshow #Susanalbumparty​

written by Abby Avery

We’re guessing you took a double take and re-read that article title a few times?  Well, they are legitimate hashtags that brands have used to market their products. You may be wondering though, did they make a massive marketing blunder or did they intentionally use ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ miscommunication as a marketing tactic?


Why are hashtags important?

The above miscommunication examples were used in hashtags on social media. As you may know, #hashtags have become an increasingly important way to connect with your consumers on social media. A hashtag is symbolised by a # followed by a keyword.


They’re important because they can help a consumer to find your content. They’re an excellent tool to reach a wider audience that may not follow your account, but might be searching for that hashtag. Say you’re a new restaurant that has opened in London. You know local residents will be interested in your business, but they just haven’t heard of you yet. Using #newrestaurantlondon on your social media post means that if anyone else searches for the same thing, they will find your business.

You can find tips on best practises of using hashtags on our Instagram SEO blog post.

Some brands use hashtags that are specific to their brand, and they’ll make sure they include them on every post. This could be a catchphrase or even just their brand name, but it gives their content a label. They’ll also encourage consumers to use it when they talk about the brand online. That way, if you search for that chosen hashtag, every piece of content, both from and about that brand, can be found in one place. It’s a great way of creating a community online.

When using hashtags, it’s important to note that they should always be relative to the post and should always be chosen wisely, with careful ‘hashtag research’ carried out to see what is trending, what is being searched for and what isn’t.


Why you need to check your social media copy #Susanalbumparty FAIL

If you didn’t hear about the #susanalbumparty hashtag which was used to promote the release of Susan Boyle’s new album in 2012 then where were you? This PR fail was mocked all over Twitter and the hashtag was quickly changed to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty. Although on this occasion it appears to be an obvious mistake (someone may not have had their reading glasses that day), I guess we’ll never know the truth. What we do know however, is that it did draw unprecedented attention to the promotion, sending it viral and making it one of the best-but-worst accidental marketing mistakes ever.

Lesson to be learnt: Get at least two or three pairs of eyes checking your social media post before it is released!




What NOT to hashtag #fauxpas

Brands have jumped on the bandwagon of using hashtags to try and reach the ‘trending’ status but not all have been successful. McDonalds created the hashtag #McDstories, which was quickly hijacked by consumers sharing horror stories about their food and McDonalds experiences (Not exactly what the brand had in mind). Similarly, Waitrose used #WaitroseReasons which invited customers to share why they shop at the store. Unfortunately, this was again hijacked with humorous tweets about the middle-class status. Not great for the brand when they were trying to lose their up-market image.

Lesson to be learnt: Make sure you consider how the hashtag will be received by the audience before you decide to post it. You don’t want people to tarnish your brand’s image.




How to successfully use ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ marketing on social media  #amazonshitcarshow

Are you sure you read that hashtag properly? Don’t worry, this wasn’t a mistake made by Amazon’s marketing team. Amazon used this hashtag as part of their digital marketing strategy for the release of their new series of ‘The Grand Tour’. Following the launch, the Twittersphere were in disbelief that Amazon could make such an oversight. However, most (but not all) quickly realised that the double-meaning was of course intentional. Following suit from the #Susanalbumparty, Amazon used the same format to promote their hit car show. The hashtag created plenty of noise on social media, as well as a few headlines. The Metro argued that “whether or not you think the joke is vulgar, you can’t deny it is excellent marketing”.

And it really was; the campaign worked successfully because the show itself is notoriously witty and at times, some-what inappropriate, and the advertisement followed this style of humour perfectly.






Lessons we’ve learnt from ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ marketing

One thing we’ve noticed is that not many brands have tried this technique or at least haven’t revealed that they’ve used this type of marketing. Why? Perhaps the fear of it going wrong and ending up with #fauxpas like McDonalds and Waitrose.

If you are thinking about creating an ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ campaign on social media, there are just a few points to consider:

  • Think about your brand tone. If your tone is funny then this type of marketing could work great for you, but if your tone is more formal, then perhaps not.
  • Consider your target audience. Would this style of marketing appeal to them or insult them?
  • You need to think about whether this post could damage your brand’s reputation or not. Will people take advantage and use this as an opportunity to damage your brand? It needs a lot of thought and perfect execution to be successful.

And finally… think once more; brand tone and target audience. Is it the right fit? Does it make sense? Your consumers are number one after all, so don’t offend them just for the chance of creating a viral campaign.