Over the weekend, Kellogg's UK division tweeted out this simple message:
This equation of social media brand promotion with charitable giving was too much for some users' taste:
“@KelloggsUK: 1RT = 1 breakfast for a vulnerable child” Anyone else find this kinda creepy? Like sayin "Help us advertise or kids go hungry"
— James Wong (@Botanygeek) November 9, 2013
And in typical fashion, the tweet drew a storm of angry criticism.
Kellogg's went into damage control and replied with the following after deleting the tweet in question:
We’d like to sincerely apologise for our distasteful tweet yesterday. We accept full responsibility for any offence we have caused.
— Kellogg's UK (@KelloggsUK) November 11, 2013
But why did people get so angry over a promise to help children? Kellogg's, of course, could instead be helping no one. It's possible that it was not so much the promotion, which is actually quite common, but the way in which it was presented.
Kellogg's promotion is just another version of "for every X bought we'll donate one X," an advertising practice that is usually not negatively received. But this type of promotion, when worded wrongly, has a history of going wrong. Earlier this year Australia's SellItOnline had to apologize when it appeared to be trading Facebook likes for bush fire relief.
(Some companies have gotten it right: Last year, for example, Snuggle detergent promised to donate teddy bears to needy children for Facebook shares. Pampers once had a promotion where one child received a vaccine per every bag of diapers purchased. Bank of America donated $1 to Welcome Back Veterans and Wounded Warrior Project for every fan who waved an American flag during "God Bless America" for one game in this past World Series.)
For the record, Kellogg's "Have a Heart" will continue to donate money to "breakfast clubs" across the United Kingdom for every promotional video watch, share, and retweet. And those kids will get meals even if you don't retweet Kellogg's.
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