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National Lottery Twitter campaign not the winning ticket


National Lottery Twitter campaign not the winning ticket

With social debacles the #WalkersWave campaign and Penguin Books’ #YourMum hashtag having hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent times, you would think marketers would be aware of the dangers of opening up personalised campaigns to the smarty-pants section of social media by now.

However, yet another organisation has discovered that if you give the general public the opportunity to do something ridiculous in the name of your brand, they can and will take it.

The unfortunate stooges on this occasion were those behind the Twitter account for The National Lottery, who quite innocently wanted to find a way to way to thank people personally for supporting the Lottery’s content.

By retweeting a post bearing the campaign’s #Represent hashtag, Twitter users were rewarded with a picture of a British athlete holding a sign with their name on it. This was all well and good, but of course, it didn’t take long for certain ne’er-do-wells to realise that the whole thing might be a lot more entertaining if they didn’t use their real name.



It wasn’t long before the National Lottery’s Twitter feed was swamped with images of sportspeople holding bizarre and inappropriate messages. As is often the case on social media, there were some people who took the joke too far, and used the opportunity to reference subjects like the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, six-year-old cancer victim Bradley Lowery and the Hillsborough Disaster.

Not surprising, therefore, that the Lottery soon decided enough was enough and issued the following two tweets:

Sadly, the damage had been done by then, and it’s yet another case of a Twitter campaign that failed to take into account how mischievous people can be.

Gradually, as companies become more au fait with how to conduct social media campaigns, anything that allows users to generate their own content will surely become confined to the “don’t even think about it” section of the manual. This is a bit of a shame, because anything that reaches out to individuals on a personal level should be highly effective.

Perhaps it shows that if these campaigns are to be set up, they can’t be a free-for-all. They need to be human-controlled and moderated rather than leaving pranksters to their own devices. That way, not only will a lot of the silliness be weeded out, but those who make a serious contribution will be rewarded with something that’s actually even more personal having been validated by an employee.

John Murray

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