Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Yogurt Culture of Lies

One of the things that excites us about social media is its ability to neutralize false or misleading information being spread on the web.

If there is negative sentiment in the blogosphere about your brand that is based on inaccurate reporting or someone with an axe to grind, you simply inject some truth into the discussion and turn the dial "up to 11" until the dialogue becomes more balanced. 

In Buenos Aires, the Danone company took a novel approach to doing this when its brand of probiotic yogurt, Actimel (DanActive in the U.S.), fell victim to a viral email hoax. The email, which circulated all around Argentina, directed people to a web page that warned that the yogurt is addictive, that it destroys the stomach's natural defenses and that it is harmful to children.

Danone initially responded by engaging the bloggers and websites that had posted the misinformation, answered questions about the report on its own website and ran a commercial addressing the issue.

Then it tried something different: It invited people to another site where they could generate their own rumors about their friends who then received an email inviting them to the site. There the friends would see the rumors about them, along with the message, "Don't believe everything you see on the internet. I'll show you how easy it is to spread a rumor about you."

"What we are trying to do is show people how easy it is to lie and deceive on the web, and how careful we as consumers must be to get truths about brands," said Sebastian Garcia Padin, owner of Danone's Argentine agency, Sinus (say what?), which created the campaign. "What the Creador de Rumores is doing is telling people 'Be careful'."

In the first month of the campaign, more than 40,000 people visited the site, and more than 100,000 individual false rumors were created and sent.

No lie.

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1 comment:

  1. This is an example of viral marketing at its best... or its worst, take your pick.