How would you like lots of attention from some heavy-duty social influencers, some of the most-read bloggers in a key market for your company?
That dream came true this month for major plastics processor Glad Products Co. — but, unfortunately for the company, the attention was all negative.
Glad Products and its PR firm, FCB Chicago, had an idea to harness the reach of popular food bloggers to promote the effectiveness of Press 'n Seal food wrap. So they invited the writers to Giant, an award-winning Chicago restaurant, with the promise of a free meal from its new menu, dubbed Three Moons.
The invitation, according to the Block Club Chicago blog, would feature "honest, unpretentious and delicious food," using "interesting preservational techniques and fresh and seasonal ingredients."
What the invitation didn't say was that all the food was prepared three days in advance, then stored using Press 'n Seal wrap — that's the "interesting preservational" technique.
What's more, the PR firm secretly videotaped the event, hoping to get some candid positive reactions from the foodies, who didn't know they were eating three-day-old food.
At the end of the meal — surprise! — the bloggers were told about the Glad Products connection and offered $300 to $1,000 if they signed waivers allowing the company to use their candid reactions in commercials.
The bloggers felt they were bamboozled. Soon the restaurant, the PR firm and — you guessed it — Glad Products, felt their web-based wrath. Don't believe me? Just Google "Glad Products Giant restaurant," and you'll see lots of headlines with words like "furious," "backfired," "pissed" and "debacle."
So, there's no such thing as bad publicity, right? (Thanks P.T. Barnum!) Maybe so. I'll be watching the quarterly financial results at Clorox Co., the publicly traded parent of Glad Products, to see if all the attention gives a boost to Press 'n Seal. It worked for Nike, right?