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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 Facebook page

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.

David Moth

Published 30 January, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1690 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

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Adi Gaskell

What on earth were they thinking? You don't have to spend long on a football fans forum to realise this sort of stunt would go down like a lead balloon. A truly baffling faux pas.

almost 5 years ago

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Rebecca Nixon, Brand Executive at The IT Job Board

Organisations like this are the reason why I get raised eyebrows when I tell people I'm in marketing, especially social media. They're making us all look ridiculous.

almost 5 years ago

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ilkut Terzioglu

Brands like this should understand, their offline fans are already available for the online. But abusing the interest of their current fanbase, Bayern will unfortunately experience high level of mistrust, causing in low interest in engagement. Sad.

almost 5 years ago

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Chris Bishop

dast ist nein sehr gut

almost 5 years ago

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Tom

@chrisbishop

Das ist nicht gut?

almost 5 years ago

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Andrew Jones, Online Marketing Consultant at Maginus

This is what happens when businesses don't completely understand the use of social media in marketing. A real we want more followers attitude, well that worked.

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

This whole episode beggars belief. It was covered really well on Irish radio station Newstalk http://media.newstalk.ie/podcast/28356/popup (approx 7mins in).

It seems that the whole club bought into this with the general manager and the captain of the football team involved in the press conference.

almost 5 years ago

Maria Morais

Maria Morais, Customer Engagement & Commerce Retail Lead at IBM

Great example to join a few others. Social media is about trust and leadership and not about tricks to get higher numbers...

almost 5 years ago

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Neil

It amazes me they don't realise the same basic rules still apply to Social Media marketing as traditional methods.

almost 5 years ago

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

It's stunts like this that really don't help the reputation of online marketing.

almost 5 years ago

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Robert

Surely this was an own goal. What was it for? What is the use of being liked on Facebook by a team like Bayern Munich. They have always filled stadiums and sold merchandise to millions of people without the help of Facebook. They will continue to do so with or without the use Facebook.

Bad idea indeed.

over 4 years ago

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