COM0011-521: Blog Entry #5 Good and bad social media campaigns

In this blog post I would like to share two SM campaigns with you, one that worked and one that did not. I will highlight “Lowe’s Fix in Six” using Vine as a success story, and Woody Harrelson’s efforts to promote the film Rampart as an example of how quickly errant stars can crash and burn.

First the good. In the spring of 2013, Lowe’s Home Improvement launched a social media campaign ( using Vine, a video-sharing tool only allows very short posts — six seconds, in fact. Sound like Twitter for video?  You got it — Vine is owned by Twitter. Lowe’s put up a dozen simple tips for homeowners.  Did you know you can use an elastic band and a drill to remove a stripped screw?  Or that a clogged shower head can easily be cleaned using vinegar, a plastic bag and a rubber band?   I didn’t either.   Lowe’s Fix in Six used time-lapse photography and was shot using an i-phone (if that’s spelled wrong that’s because I am a Blackberry guy!).  In the best traditions of slap-stick, the time-lapse photography adds an element of humour to the campaign.  It is not a hard sell at all — in fact many of the “projects” use objects commonly found around the house and would not require a trip to the store.  Instead, it seeks to build good will for the store. Vine has been a tough sell for many marketers, however based on the hugely positive reaction on Twitter (, I think it’s safe to call this one a success.

Ironically, six seconds is about all it took for Woody Harrelson’s rep to go down the drain when he agreed to do do a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) on-line appearance while promoting his film film Rampart in February 2012.  Initially questions focused on the film  but things went astray when someone made claims that Harrleson had taken a classmate’s virginity years earlier.  Harrelson insisted he was only taking questions about the film (wait a minute wasn’t this supposed to be an AMA?!!). A short time later a Quickmeme page for “Scumbag Woody Harrelson” appeared with images mocking the star.


Over the next few days the actor was savaged on-line, and YouTube viewers began disliking the film’s trailer. At last count, the dislikes outranked the likes better than 2 to 1 (1,423-629). Mainstream media criticism followed, with articles about the exchange being published in the New York Observer, the Huffington Post, Forbes and other on-line outlets.  Harrelson’s Google search interest  ( peaked a short time after the incident.

Moral of the story? Social media can turn quickly on you, particularly if you appear to be evasive and not willing to tackle tough issues.  This is particularly true for celebrities — lots of people want to bring them down a peg or two!  As a media relations practitioner I encourage my clients to engage with the media in safe environments, and generally to avoid call-in shows.   The social media equivalent can be just as dangerous!

2 thoughts on “COM0011-521: Blog Entry #5 Good and bad social media campaigns

  1. You know, I feel sorry for Woody. Not because he shouldn’t have seen this coming but because Reddit can contain some of the meanest folks on the internet and can turn on your instantly. It would be interesting to bring up in class what’s the best way to approach Reddit, don’t you think?

  2. Haha I remember when the whole Woody Harrelson controversy went down, and I guess I feel a little bad for him, but the person who work for him who were responsible for setting that AMA up are really the ones at fault here. They didn’t care to learn anything about the community before blatantly advertising to them. I agree Reddit can be extreme and I personally wouldn’t want to upset the “Reddit army” I think the best way to deal with them is just to get away from the drama and hope something more dramatic comes along soon for them. The trolls will always want to feed the controversy and if you leave them alone they’ll hopefully get bored and move on.

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