Friday, June 29, 2007

The Perils of Customer Involvement

Malibu Caribbean Rum recently sponsored a contest from its user-generated advertising site. They offered either a prize of $25,000 or a personal banana grove in a tropical location to the contestant who submitted the best original advertisement for the product.

According to The New York Times article "Outcome of an Ad Contest Starts an Uproar on YouTube", Malibu encouraged participation from You-Tube users and said they would consider their votes when making the final decision.

But when a winner was announced even before the final contestants were posted, many YouTube users became upset. Message boards were filled with complaints, and one user even created a short conspiracy theory video about the situation.

The uproar shows how user-generated promotions can backfire with some consumers.

Beware of the risks associated with customer involvement. You must not only be trustworthy, but transparent when building a stronger business.

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