#PRFAIL The Not-So-Sunny Side of Viral Marketing

Back in the beginning of May, swimsuit company Sunny & Co. announced via their Instagram page a give-a-way with: (and this is the exact copy used) “EVERYONE that reposts and tags us in this picture within the next 24 hours will receive a FREE Pamela Sunny Suit” *Bikini Emoji* 1

WHAT?! Giving away your product FOR FREE, no-strings attached and just for sharing your photo?SC_TWITTER-300x247.png

Well. Things went… viral.

Over 100,000 people commented on the Instagram post and there were even more re-posts trying to get on the free swag.

Mind you, with this suit going for $64.99 a piece, that equates to about 6.5 million dollars. Ouch.

Only after this happened, did Sunny & Co update their Instagram post with a key piece of copy saying, it “can reserve the right to cap the promotion if deemed necessary.” Uh…..o.k.

The amount of people that entered into “this contest” were shocked when in fact, the suit sold out, promo codes stopped working and they were being charged full price for the suit. The monster of the internet roared its ugly head and took to messaging the founders of the company asking about what’s going on… over 50,000 messages or so.2

I understand and fully support an attempt at a viral marketing approach. And being someone who owns one too many bathing suits… I don’t blame the people for trying- I mean hey, everyone loves free stuff.

The moral of the story here is simple: think before you tweet.

… But I know you’re reading this newsletter for better commentary than that so ideally:

Sunny & Co. could have hit the mark for this viral campaign if they had put the full importance on the communication going out. I don’t know if this was their intention to make the offer look too good to be true or they were lazy—their intent doesn’t matter. But the ability to think in sequences does – meaning…what could happen, what would the cost be, do I need to run this by management, legal or is there even a policy regarding this????

Screen_Shot_2017-05-04_at_10.24.27_AM-247x300.pngIF they had put the proper copy into the post saying they would cap the offer to the first 1000 people (or what-have-you), ideally they would have had maybe 75% the same result with vastly less backlash.

As a result of Sunny & Co’s actions, on purpose or not, they have been met with bad press, internet-flooding feeds poking fun at them and, for the foreseeable future, it isn’t hard to see another promotion being met with skepticism from the public. Not good for business.

Moral of the story: PR is not about the exposure – it’s about the smarts behind the exposure. 90% of PR is planned. 10% is execution.

1 B. Esposito & K. Cho “A Company Said They Would Give Out Free Swimsuits And It Totally Backfired” buzzfeed.com May 04 2017, Web May 25, 2017

2 L. Raper “The Saga of The Viral Swimsuit Giveaway Gone Wrong Has A Happy Ending,” refinery29.com May 13, 2017, Wb. May 25, 2017

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