The campaign, which Adland's Dabitch described as "trolling as a social media strategy," resulted in huge amounts of earned media and — according to Marketing — £1million in direct sales revenue.
I've never been a fan of the cliché, "there's no such thing as bad publicity," but for brands that are seeking to grow a narrow-but-oppositional target market, it can work.
Enter Gourmet Burger Kitchen, a UK chain that decided to dust off an old chestnut for meat vendors: Making fun of vegetarians.
@KirstenHenry these are more appropriate ads....mocking people that care about animals ✊🏼💦 #gourmetmurderkitchen pic.twitter.com/LcNnFOSTtf— paul warmington (@paulwarmo) January 18, 2016
The advertiser has since made a tepid apology on Facebook, and has promised to take down "some of" the ads. But a follow up survey, published in The Drum, showed that the campaign was likely to increase sales slightly.
Which makes me wonder, are angry social media protests over campaigns like these just playing into the hands of the most cynical marketers? Do activists risk becoming one more channel for earned media?
I'd love to hear some opinions about what's happening, and what could go differently.