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To HashTag Or Not To Hashtag


Thursday, 28 May 2015

To be or not to be? That is the question Shakespeare pondered many moons ago.

Now, in the midst of the social media age, we find ourselves faced with another baffling question: To hashtag or not to hashtag?

A punchy hashtag that takes on a life of its own, goes viral and single-handedly sends sales through the roof is the dream, but it’s an elusive one.

We’re not claiming to be hashtag #Jedis but as lovers of all things advertising, we’ve seen our fair share of brilliant campaigns and epic fails.

Of course, the most entertaining are usually the #epicfails. Let’s start with one that’s #freshinourmemories.


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Woolworths’ insensitive ANZAC Day campaign outraged the entire internet. The company ended up apologising but the damage had already been done.

There was a bright side though. The misguided campaign hashtag was hijacked, sparking a series of creative parodies.

Lesson: Don’t align your brand with important events in history.


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The intention for this campaign was that the hashtag would inspire people to share their wonderful McDonald’s memories. A nice idea, yes. But it backfired, big time.

Hundreds of people used the hashtag to share their 140 character McDonald’s horror stories.

While McDonald’s abruptly ended their campaign, the hashtag continued.

Lesson: Campaigns come and go, but hashtags are forever.

It’s a lesson bookmaker company William Hill also learnt the hard way.


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The #NameAHorseRace competition gave punters the opportunity to - you guessed it - name a horse race.

Anti-horse racing and anti-gambling advocates jumped on the hashtag with the creatively titled “The Pet Meat Stakes”, “Animal Abuse”, “The Sad Addiction Life Is Ruined Home Wrecker Stakes”, and “The Lost My Rent And Grocery Money Again Stakes”.


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Qantas’ #QantasLuxury hashtag was the top trending topic but for all the wrong reasons. The competition offered an opportunity to win Qantas pyjamas and toiletries kits for users who tweeted their inflight fantasies.

Unfortunately for the airline, the responses weren’t all first class Peter Morrisey pyjamas and French champagne. Users attacked the Qantas industrial strikes in the news with tweets like “#QantasLuxury is giving yourself a pay rise whilst grounding your whole airline and taking local jobs offshore.”

Qantas inadvertently fuelled the fire with what we can only assume were pre-planned tweets thanking users for their creative entries - “keep the entries coming!”

Lesson: Take off your rose-coloured glasses and examine your hashtag idea and how it may be used (or misused!)

There’s no way to avoid negative feedback on social media. Trollers gonna troll and ragers gonna rage. But there is a way to mitigate the damage.


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American pizza company DiGiorno Pizza wanted to increase their social audiences. To do this, they developed the hashtag #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT and participated in some good old sledging every Sunday during NFL games.

Trash talking, ALL CAPS tweets from a pizza company grabbed the attention of hundreds of Americans. When they were hit with the inevitable negative feedback, they maintained their personality and delivered hilarious comebacks.

Lesson: Tweet when the tweeters are, and don’t be afraid to show some personality.

Is there a #epicfail or epic win that’s #freshinyourmemories? Tell us on our Facebook or Twitter pages.