There’s no shortage of organizations looking to hand out awards for the best social media campaigns, but they are only half the story. Every Oscar needs a Razzy to balance it out. We must punish failure as well as praise excellence. Or, at least, that was the mood at the fourth annual Suxorz Awards event at Social Media Week on Thursday night.
The evening’s panel of marketing experts was filled by Jessica Amason, Brian Clark, Brian Morrissey and BL Ochman and was moderated by Henry Copeland. Each panelist put forth a nominee for each of four categories. After all the panelists had explained why they were nominating a particular social media action, Copeland turned the discussion over to the crowd, letting them vote on the worst of the lot.
Afterward, the floor was opened up to people’s choice nominations, and the winner of that round was put up against the winners of previous rounds for a vote on who had the worst social media moment of the past 12 months. No statues were given out, but the Grand Suxorz “winner” did receive a mocking post on their Facebook wall written by the panelists.
Here are campaigns that ended up winning their respective categories:
Meme Purgatory: This category was all about brands thinking they understood how to start or control a viral phenomenon. The nominees were Dell’s “Dr. Ashley” campaign, Volkswagen’s “Sluggy Patterson” character, Cisco’s “Ted from Accounting” videos and Smirnoff Ice’s handling of the “Bros Icing Bros” phenomenon. Cisco handily won this category for its series of videos, which ape the style but not the humor value of the popular Old Spice Guy campaign, after the audience begged the panel to stop the Ted video early.
Missed Connections: These nominees were for companies that tried using social media but got the fundamentals wrong. The nominees included a Facebook campaign to bring Starbucks to Budapest, Hungary, that was later taken over by the coffee chain, CVS’ community manager having a locked Twitter account, Denny’s accidentally pointing customers to a Taiwanese boy’s abandoned Twitter account on the back of its menus and a video produced by Leo Burnett about the virtues of social communication that ended up having none of the virtues of social communication.
Denny’s ended up winning the round because of how funny the mistake was and because it took Denny’s so long to notice anything was wrong.
Mean People Suck: These nominees all stumbled by failing to handle fan interaction well. Dr. Pepper got in trouble for its Facebook status takeover campaign, which ended up a little more peppery that the brand would have liked. Nestle’s fight with Greenpeace continues to embarrass the brand. Price Chopper, a grocery store chain, complained to a customer’s boss after the customer criticized the chain on Twitter. Mercedes was criticized for requiring users to like the brand on Facebook to learn more about an upcoming Twitter ad campaign. The Twitter campaign itself was also criticized, since the volume of tweets from participants was so high.
Price Chopper walked away with this one, since its reaction was so over the top and contrary to the values of social media.
You’re so vain: This round was all about misuse of celebrity. LeBron James was called out for joining Twitter just in time to capitalize on speculation that he might switch teams — and then not using the platform to share any information. Designer Kenneth Cole took more scorn for his Egypt comments — though at at least one panelist argued that the off-color remark wasn’t really all that bad. The passel of celebrities that participated in the “Digital Death” charity campaign were lampooned for going along with a stunt was both tasteless (in comparing silence on Twitter to actual deaths) and ineffective (in that the the silenced celebrities couldn’t use their networks to raise money).
Fast Company’s Influencer Project also took a hit, since it didn’t really measure a person’s influence so much as their willingness to spam their friends. The panelists said trying to identify influencers is a worthy goal, but the campaign shows how much we have to learn about calculating influence.
The Digital Death campaign won the day, with participants noting that it was both silly and ineffective — though it did have the effect of temporarily silencing a few of the Web’s less appealing celebrities.
People’s Choice: Nominations here included the Transportation Security Administration’s handling of airport full-body scanners, BP’s response to the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill, Charmin’s Facebook presence and Facebook’s “Facebook Stories” feature, with BP winning the round.
BP, Price Chopper, Digital Deaths, Cisco and Denny’s were the contenders in the final round. Apologists came out on several sides, with some people saying that it’s understandable the Denny’s would miss the typo since it is managing an successful Twitter presence. At least one audience member argued that BP shouldn’t qualify as a social media failure because the company’s problems run much deeper.
The vote was close, but in the end, Price Chopper emerged as the year’s worst social media faux pas, embodying the opposite of everything social media interaction is supposed to be about. At last glance, it looks like the chain took down the Facebook post “congratulating” it on the victory.
What do you think was the biggest social media flop of the past 12 months?
Image credit: CWLawrence, via iStockphoto