ConAgra recently demonstrated conclusively that if you are going to use social media in your marketing and PR efforts, authenticity is a key ingredient. The processed food and agri-business company invited a group of bloggers to a dinner at a purported "pop-up restaurant" in New York with chef George Duran.
Unfortunately someone at ConAgra's PR agency Ketchum was a bit too clever and ignored the authenticity rule. The bloggers were served re-heated frozen dishes from a Marie Callendar's line. Unlike many "traditional journalists," bloggers are often far less averse to calling bullshit to company PR efforts, especially when they feel they have been misled.
When it became clear that Duran had not actually prepared the main courses, the bloggers did not take the whole stunt well. There is nothing wrong with taking non-traditional approaches to promoting new products. When done well, surprising the right audience with something unexpected, it can work very well and generate some great buzz.
When done badly as Ketchum did, the results can be decidedly negative. When social media writers feel like they have been scammed, they will tell the world and make you look foolish.
When Bloggers Don’t Follow the Script, to ConAgra’s Chagrin
An exclusive meal for food lovers turned out to be a frozen-food switch — but the marketing strategy backfired.
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