Bayern Munich’s marketing team scored an own-goal by tricking fans into ‘liking’ them on Facebook with the promise of a “spectacular new signing.”
However, instead of unveiling a “new offensive player”, the club admitted it had duped its fans and was instead launching a new app.
Bayern had said on its website that a new striker would be unveiled on Facebook at 2pm on Thursday – to view the proceedings fans had to log on and ‘like’ the club’s official page.
Ironically when the trick was finally revealed Bayern said its new app, called ‘The New FCB Star’, was to show just how important the fans are to the club.
A mere 3 hours and 5,000 angry comments later, the club was forced to issue an apology to its “dear fans.”
Bayern’s ill-judged campaign is the latest example of brands duping fans and followers on social media to gain a short term PR coup.
Last week we reported on Snickers hijacking Katie Price’s Twitter feed for a PR campaign – a stunt that is now being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority since there's debate about how clear it was that this was paid for.
Waggener Edstrom UK head of digital Jon Silk said that the public are getting wise to such tricks, and are going to be very choosy about who and why they follow.
Marketers need to be more honest than ever - fans will quickly turn to enemies if they feel they are being conned, and that negativity will spread even more quickly than the support.”
Bayern’s Facebook mishap is a spectacular misjudgement for a football club who should have been more aware of how passionate fans are about their team.
While Katie Price’s followers may not mind being tricked as the campaign was poking fun at her public image, football fans won’t like being lied to about something they care deeply about.
It also shows that marketers still don’t understand the value of a Facebook fan. Is there any point in racking up thousands of ‘likes’ if all of them will ultimately be left angry and disappointed?
Bayern currently has nearly 3m Facebook fans, but any short term gain from this sort of stunt is unlikely to transfer into long term success if the fans don’t trust the marketing messages.