Kia, like just about every other business, is trying hard to find its way in the ever-evolving world of social media. Some might say the Korean automaker is trying too hard, though, judging by responses to its new Facebook campaign. The initiative was born out of an attempt to build the company’s Facebook likes, while at the same time raising money for charity with a program called “1 Like = 1Day Food for 1 Family.”
Kia’s Facebook campaign asked users to click on the social media site’s ubiquitous thumbs-up “Like” button. In return, the carmaker promised that for every like, it would donate a day’s worth of food for a whole family of starving refugees in Sudan through charity World Vision.
The effort garnered Kia almost 4,000 likes and, presumably, 4,000 days-worth of food for hungry refugees, but it’s also gotten dozens of derisive comments calling Kia’s campaign words like “disgraceful” and “sickening.” The big objection to the effort is the idea that Kia is looking to boost brand awareness by taking advantage of people’s charitable impulses. As one commenter said, “Either donate or don’t… the emotional blackmail… is sickening.” Another said, “If you really care, Kia, just help them anyway and don’t boast about it for your own brand awareness.”
Kia says it has been caught off guard by the criticism and “…did not anticipate this type of interpretation.” The company has since changed the link on their Facebook page from the like button to a World Vision link.
University of Canberra social media researcher Julie Posetti tells stuff.co.nz that campaigns like this always have “potential for backlash.”
“Bottom line: it’s rarely a good look to try to leverage potential customers’ social concern for hungry, war-orphaned children in the interests of advertising clout,” Posetti said.