Friday, August 22, 2008

EA SPORTS Uses Social Media to Turn a Complaint Into a Marketing Opportunity

We've seen this a dozen times already: A consumer uses a YouTube video to complain about a service or product, and soon thousands or even millions of people are watching it. Comcast had its sleeping tech, Taco Bell its rats, and Burger King its sink-bathing employee. While this approach obviously isn't available in every situation (nor is responding to every complaint a smart or even possible approach), EA SPORTS has shown how Social Media can turn a consumer's concern into a terrific marketing opportunity.

A consumer posted a YouTube video demonstrating a "glitch" in the game "Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08." It seems a setting in the game permits the virtual Tiger to make a "Jesus shot"--he walks on water, chips the ball off the surface, and puts it in the cup. The consumer is less complaining (since he clearly loves the game) than he is using YouTube to point out a game issue.

Certainly no one was going to avoid purchasing the game because of this one video, but EA SPORTS posted a response. Their motivation had nothing to do with proving the consumer incorrect or defending the game but instead promoted the game with an excellent, entertaining viral video.

Who knows--maybe EA SPORTS was behind the initial "consumer" video and this entire YouTube dialog is nothing but a carefully orchestrated viral campaign. While this sort of manipulation can often backfire on a brand, in this case I don't think their consumer base would care; the tone is lighthearted and the response video so funny and so perfectly suited to both Tiger's and the game's brands that it wouldn't matter whether or not Levinator25 is a real consumer.

Both videos are below. Enjoy this terrific example of how a brand can leverage Social Media for an unexpected brand-driving engagement with consumers. (Thanks to Patrick for sharing this.)

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