BirdsEye hit the news recently for allowing customers to pay for BirdsEye meals using an Instagram photo and the hashtag #BirdsEyeInspirations at a pop-up restaurant in London. The photos taken by customers were actually a bit rubbish, but it’s nevertheless generated a lot of buzz for the brand online through news reports. The stunt forms part of Birds Eye’s ‘Food of Life’ campaign that aims to celebrate “real food and the way real people eat and interact at meal times”. In effect, a shared photo and hashtag was a currency.
This marks a trend that sees advertisers attributing a greater value to a social endorsement than they have done previously. Rewind 4 years and an advertiser was viewed as pretty revolutionary if it included a hashtag on its adverts. Now it comes as a shock to see an advert without a hashtag, regardless of whether it merits one or not. Taking it one step further, Amazon recently partnered with Twitter to add a product to a user’s Amazon basket if they replied to a link with the hashtag #AmazonBasket. It doesn’t work seamlessly, but again increases the intrinsic value of a social endorsement.
Amazon has launched a service that can place items in a user’s basket using a hashtag.
So will this work well with already established brands? Probably not. Will it work for new food outlets and restaurants that want to create some buzz and draw attention to their brand and products? If used occasionally, then absolutely. I can see this type of stunt working well to promote the launch of a new product. What becomes an issue is when the value of what the customer receives doesn’t match the time and effort that it takes them to essentially go out of their way to socially endorse a product they haven’t seen before.
Also, Birdseye had a professional photographer and “brand crew” attending the pop-up restaurant to ensure that every photo and tweet that was sent out was portraying the brand in a positive light. For a new startup brand without these kinds of safety net, social endorsement could quickly transform into a #socialdisaster.