N.B. this post has been adapted from a previous factually incorrect version – my apologies.
LETS US FLY (DOWNWARD)
Tonight Fly Scoot launched a social media gamification campaign “World’s Longest Virtual Flight Challenge”, with shocking and potentially brand damaging results. In order to participate and be in with a chance of wining a year of free flights from Scoot plus $20k challengers were required to register their position (“virtual seat”) a few weeks before take off, virtually board the flight an hour before and during the flight “tap” the Facebook application once every minute. Not only was it a live online gaming challenge but there was also a real life group participation event organised to amplify the campaign. What would you think possibly go wrong in this situation? Only a (major) technological failure…
Hundreds of users took to the Facebook page before the virtual flight was scheduled to take off to report and complain about problems joining the “virtual flight” leading to Scoot updating a status on their Facebook page announcing the flight had been delayed to 9:15PM – if this was actually planned it would have been quite the quirky stunt, except it wasn’t and this was just the beginning of the epic fall (from the sky). For those that did manage to board app crashes, freezes and problems refreshing were experienced plus many were booted off the game for no reason at all, unsurprisingly Scoot’s Facebook page bursted with thousands of angry comments in the first hour of the challenge going live. For users who took part at the live event at City Square Golden Village cinema Steven Greenway (Head of Commercial at Scoot) made an announcement after 20 minutes that everyone playing the game on site who were booted off would receive a free round trip ticket to Sydney – great solution for them, but what about all the online angry participants Steve?? Admittedly it was quite a creative concept that proved well in creating a positive buzz for the brand among the digital community (over 8000 people registered to participate!) however it ended up being a huge marketing nightmare.
In order to avoid detrimental impact a light-hearted approach should be taken with the apology and compensation process, ideally the game should have never continued as it sent out the wrong message to all of the unfairly dismissed participants who for some, had taken leave, booked holidays and re-organised their schedules to take part. The silver lining here is that it the activity launched outside of office hours so there is still a chance of effecting the press coverage. The technology partner who powered the app (iNEO) have a lot of explaining to do in order to provide a reasoning as to why this failed so miserably.Surely they had it bulletproof and road tested the solution until it was perfect? Did they? I mean the number of participants didn’t even reach their anticipated maximum of 10,000. Understanding what went wrong here would be good so we can all learn from it and from a marketing perspective the key takeaway here is to always anticipate failure (of the grandest kind) so that one can plan the fairest treatment and execute it quickly.