What do you call a brand promotion contest that leaves thousands of your most enthusiastic supporters frustrated and furious?
Disaster might be a good place to start.
Jeep’s Australian affiliate lit an online firestorm with its “Jeep Remote Dealership” promotion. Cherokees were offered at a quarter of their sticker price to the first 10 people who — after downloading a special app and dialing a secret phone number at a specified time — discovered an undisclosed location where they could buy their discounted SUV.
More than 30,000 Aussies played along, but the secret phone number had leaked online hours before the deadline. So some folks may have had a big head start.
Minutes after the promotion closed, Jeep Australia’s Facebook page and other social media were full of accusations of fraud and calls for governmental investigations and class-action lawsuits.
“I may well have considered a new jeep until you wasted my time with this promotion,” wrote one peeved participant. “Now never again. It was over before the ability to ring was given to me. Not anymore.”
Said another: “Will not be buying a jeep now as this whole thing was a scam.”
Jeep said it was sorry, but a local executive told an Australian news outlet: “We did everything we can [to ensure it ran smoothly]. Of course people are disappointed they didn’t win but it was always going to be 10 people who would win.”