Labatt, Luka Magnotta, and a lesson in social media
The good people at Labatt learned a hard lesson today about marketing in the age of social media. My friend Susan Krashinsky, a Globe and Mail reporter who ultimately played a part in the story, has the details. The short version is as follows:
- The Montreal Gazette published a photo of alleged killer du jour Luka Magnotta holding a bottle of Blue. Labatt threatened to sue the Gazette unless they took the “highly denigrating” photo down.
- Susan and her Globe and Mail colleague Steve Ladurantaye reported on the legal threat, bringing it to the public’s attention.
- Twitter got a hold of the story, and the whole thing went to hell. Macleans soon credited their own former national editor, Post columnist Andrew Coyne, with kicking the whole thing off by creating the #newlabattcampaign hashtag.
Dozens and dozens of tasteless tweets later, the brand had taken a beating. And it never would have happened if they’d left well enough alone.
York business professor Alan Middleton calls the fiasco a symptom of “the inexperience of marketers who used to deal with a command and control media structure.” Companies like Labatt are learning that they no longer have complete control over their messaging. “You can influence it,” Middleton says, “but you can’t control it.”
And on the web, you should never, ever get caught trying to control anything.
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