5 Social Networking Promotions That Backfired Spectacularly

The great thing about social media is that it allows whatever stupid thing you want to say to reach your audience instantly. The terrible thing about social media is that it allows whatever stupid thing you want to say to reach your audience instantly. It takes about 30 seconds of thought to accurately gauge whether your brilliant marketing gimmick will build brand engagement or be prosecuted as some kind of hate crime in certain countries in Europe.

The folks on this list did not take those 30 seconds.

#5. Square Enix Asks You to Murder Your Unattractive Friends

SquareEnix

Every marketing guru knows that edginess gets results. But there's a fine line between "edgy" and "actively encouraging you to harm your loved ones." Actually, it's not that fine. It's more like the moral equator. Yet when trying to drum up enthusiasm for their new title, Hitman Absolution, Square Enix drunkenly swerved the corporate cruise liner way the hell over that line and crashed it into a reef, killing all aboard.

Since their new game centered on simulated murder, Square Enix decided to promote it with a Facebook game centered on arranging the murders of your real-life friends.

rockpapershotgun.com
"She's earned this; just look at that picture of her. Total bitch."

It worked like this: First you chose a name from your friends list, then you chose an identifiable trait, such as "her small tits" or "her muffin top." Shockingly, we are not using comedic hyperbole -- those were actual pre-filled options. Finally, you gave the app your reason why she should die. The totally-not-sociopathic selections included things like "her annoying laugh," "her strange odor," and hopefully "sending me these awful Facebook game requests."

Media Bakery/Simon Belcher
"I told him to fuck off the first 156,235 times, but something about his 156,236th pitch intrigues me. ACCEPTED."

Instead of immediately logging your IP and forwarding this information to the FBI, the game posted a message to the victim's wall, stating, "I hope you get killed by a hitman!" followed by a video of Agent 47 blasting their profile pic to kingdom come with a sniper rifle. (Alternatively, if they were one of those people who don't use their own likeness as their avatar, you'd see him shoot a defenseless kitty right in the face.)

rockpapershotgun.com
If you prove yourself cold and callous enough, you graduate to puppy murder.

After realizing that they just released a tool that handily combined death threats and cyberbullying for the murderous modern asshole on the go, Square Enix pulled the app.

rockpapershotgun.com
Everyone terminated in the game was also terminated for real, just in case they ever decided to snitch.

In their defense, though, Square Enix wasn't the first to ask consumers to sacrifice their Facebook friends to the corporate money gods ...

#4. Burger King Asks You to Lose All Your Friends, Eat Hamburgers Instead

Wikimedia Commons

Burger King was pretty sure that most people secretly wanted to burn all of their friends in effigy. Now, if only there was a small but tangible reward for doing so -- what a great way to promote a hamburger!

In their "Whopper Sacrifice" promotion, BK encouraged people to remove friends from their friends list in exchange for a prize. We're not sure why Burger King hates the idea of you having friends, but it probably has something to do with the ratio of loneliness to number of chicken fries consumed.

Burger King
"I'm the only friend you've got, motherfucker."

So how much was each friend worth, you ask? Well, deleting 10 friends from Facebook -- each accompanied by an animation of his or her photo burning to ashes -- got you a coupon for a free hamburger. Now, we're no mathematicians, but we're pretty sure that puts the value of each friend at about two bites of a shitty fast food burger.

Burger King
Tiny bites, too, like the kind that could choke a finch.

The real kicker was that the app then happily informed each deleted friend via wall post that they were worth less to you than 40 calories of vague gastric regret. This violated Facebook's terms, since they don't generally give unwanted friends a flashing neon sign that you just deleted them -- because that might, you know, spark the occasional psychopathic revenge-type situation. So the app was pulled ... but not before 233,906 friends found themselves flame broiled.

Burger King
Which is 233,906 more than those slackers in Salem ever managed.

So get set for Burger King's new slogan: "Tastes better than human companionship!"

#3. Obamacare Is "Cool" and "With It," Unsure of What "It" Is

doyougotinsurance.com

Obamacare's success depends on healthy young people signing up for it almost as much as it depends on the government's entire IT staff not going on a bender on website launch day. Problem is, on the Scale of Coolness, health insurance ranks somewhere between Hammer pants and Creed. To rectify this, a progressive group based in Colorado decided to change young minds across the country by way of a marketing campaign based on '90s college movies.

ProgressNowColorado
"Hey, teens, we also cover burns from pie fucking!"

The goal was for the photos to go viral on social media, and go viral they did -- though obviously not for the intended reasons.

doyougotinsurance.com
If you need the ER after a fall from an 18-inch keg, you've got issues that brosurance can't possibly solve.

Aside from the above-pictured college douchebag demographic, their other audiences were "young adults, families, women, and minority groups," and each approach is just as laughable as the broticians and broctors up there. First we have this young lady, who, thanks to Obamacare, feels safe banging Mallrats-era Ben Affleck here:

doyougotinsurance.com
"The only weird part is when we role-play and he insists on calling me Matt."

Then we have this one, apparently focused on middle-aged drunken lesbian workout fuck buddies.

doyougotinsurance.com
"They are awkward and clumsy and have zero clue what they're doing. Be like them and exercise today!"

For a campaign focused on young people, it's fascinating that not a single person at the agency bothered to look up what the phrase "friends with benefits" means.

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