When Life Gives You Lemons

Welcome to the dark art of deliberate mistakes on social platforms.

// by Colin

To err is human, to point out a mistake, well, that’s just really satisfying. We all like to correct mistakes – that’s schadenfreude. Social media is a crowded space and marketers for majors brands will do whatever it takes to cut through the noise. Welcome to the dark art of deliberate mistakes on social platforms.

We know the image accompanying our headline is of Oranges, not Lemons, but we are interested to see how this flies and how many people react without reading the article, and how the comments go. 🙄

Many brands will now mess up on purpose to increase post interactions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here are three examples from major brands of intentional ‘mistakes’.

1. Milk and Sugar Frankish? Want that to go Colon?

Why is it that Starbucks generally misspell common names? Well, it’s not by accident, and it’s actually quite clever really. When you get your coffee, with your name spelt incorrectly, what happens? Many people take a pic and up it goes to social media, tagging Starbucks and for better or worse, promoting the brand. Cute hoors 😉

2. Visible – Unlimited Massages

When digital-carrier Visible put up a series of billboards in Denver, Colorado, advertising “unlimited massages,” people on social media were quick to point out the error. But the spelling mistake was actually a stunt and the brand followed it up by offering free unlimited massages.

The campaign was broken down into two main components, said Kate Erickson, an account director at Madwell, the agency behind this masterstroke. “Phase one was a groundswell; people catching on and noticing [the mistake] in a more organic fashion,” she said. “With phase two, we flipped the switch, announcing it on social and running paid media to draw attention to it.”

Unbeknownst to the general public, Visible had hired a number of influencers to participate in both phases. It also explained the stunt, under embargo, to a select number of publications. On September 16, Visible confessed to the error, announcing that it would remain true to its word and offer free massages. 

3. Monster Super Bowl 2015 Twitter Campaign

Monster and BBDO worked together to develop creative that would utilise a unique function on the Twitter platform: When you post an image, that image is auto-cropped for display on mobile and desktop and a user can expand to see the full picture.

With this in mind, they developed two images: One celebrating a Patriots victory in the Super Bowl, one celebrating the Seahawks. The idea was to intentionally deploy the wrong one, once the game clock expired. If you fully exposed the image, you’d see that it hid a Monster job search bar for a new social media manager.

There were thousands of retweets, favourites, comments and responses. Several thousand engagements were later deleted or undone once users expanded the image to realised the joke. Huge traction was generated for Monster from very little budget. They nailed this, and in good spirit too. Great craic.

We are becoming more and more conscious of questioning what we see on social media, so next time you spot a mistake before you jump in with two feet, stop and thunk for a minute.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved.

linkedin instagram facebook