The campaign, which used the hashtag #WalkersWave, offered football fans the chance to win tickets to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League final in Cardiff, by tweeting a selfie to Walkers. A video was then automatically generated, featuring their image superimposed on a placard, held by football TV pundit Gary Lineker.
But, some Twitter users abused the campaign by posting images of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and former England footballer Adam Johnson to Walkers, which were then automatically loaded onto the videos.
‘UEFA Champions League’
On the videos – featuring a Mexican wave graphic at the national stadium of Wales – Lineker said: “Thanks for joining the WalkersWave, and celebrating the UEFA Champions League final. Nice selfie.”
While hundreds of tweets featuring innocent images were dispatched, a small proportion featured images of the disgraced celebrities, as well as serial killers Fred West and Harold Shipman.
Walkers shut down the social media campaign yesterday evening (May 25), it confirmed on Twitter.
A Walkers statement said: “We recognise people were offended by irresponsible and offensive posts, and we apologise.
‘Shut the activity down’
“We are equally upset and have shut the activity down.”
After the campaign was sabotaged, Lineker said on Twitter: “Had an unusual day in some very strange company. I’m sure we’ll wave goodbye to them all by tomorrow.”
Walkers has since deleted all tweets featuring the campaign.
Meanwhile, Walkers was not the first food company to have a social media campaign backfire. In 2012, social media users ridiculed a Waitrose campaign which asked people to complete the sentence: “I shop at Waitrose because…”. Other observers have highlighted how food firms can benefit from social media (see box below).