Durex Condoms In Social Media Flop

Batman BadgeMy friend Eileen Brown brought a delightful social media #fail to my attention today in her column on ZDNet.

You’d have thought Durex Condoms would always play it safe, but their latest Facebook marketing campaign has turned into a bit of a flop thanks to a remarkable lack of planning (or should that be foreplay?)

SOS Condoms App for iOSThe trouble begins with a curious “insight” that some couples don’t think to buy condoms in advance, but they are foresighted enough to install an app from iTunes allowing them to request an emergency delivery as long as they have previously ensured they will only be in coitus in a city where the service exists.

Of course, there’s no way Reckitt Benckiser could promise rapid deliveries of “SOS Condoms” to every corner of the world, so they ran a vote on a microsite, promoted via Facebook, inviting would-be consumers to choose the city where they would like the emergency service to next be available.

In the true spirit of the empowered consumer, voters were left to their own devices to pick any place in the world rather than having to select from a shortlist of pre-qualified cities. Quite naturally, this resulted in some online jokers looking for ways to spice up the outcome. And, you guessed it, the most requested location for SOS Condom deliveries was Batman, a city in Turkey.

Batman Road signWell done Batman! You amassed more votes than Paris, London and New York combined, and your residents can now look forward to breathlessly opening the door to fresh supplies less than one hour after ordering. Whether the service is now off the ground is unclear but we can only hope that uptake is strong from Turkey’s luckiest amorous couples.

Durex has conceded that its campaign was hijacked and has closed the voting, possibly prematurely. I’m sure its intentions were good (or should that be bona fide?), but this is a timely reminder to all marketers to carefully think through the implications of allowing full crowd ownership over the outcomes of marketing campaigns. Surrendering control to the social web is sometimes a smart tactic, but without sufficient attention to detail and crisis planning your next activity might not be heading for a happy ending.