You should never trust the general public, at least not when presented with a potential trolling opportunity. Such is the case with the latest mismanaged move by Walkers, which, as part of its ongoing Champions League campaign, allowed users to submit selfies, which would then be held onscreen by brand ambassador Gary Linekar. Called the “Walkers Wave,” the campaign had benevolent intentions, but those intentions were dashed when the campaign was hijacked by Twitter users. As a result, Linekar has been seen holding aloft pictures of everyone from Rolf Harris and Stalin to Fred West and Joseph Fritzel.
The original idea was that, through the use of social media integration, fans would be united ahead of the Real Madrid and Juventus final and use augmented reality to make it look like fans were in Cardiff's National Stadium of Wales for the big game. In an unfortunate turn of events, however, Twitter trolls decided to submit photos featuring all manner of unsavoury characters and criminals, also including the 'Yorkshire Ripper' Peter Sutcliffe and Harold Shipman.
Now, I can see the funny side here, but then I have a rather dark sense of humour. For your average Walkers fan, it might all seem a little bit in bad taste and hard to swallow (puns very much intended there). As such, Walkers issued an official statement yesterday apologising for the hijacking, stating: “We recognise people were offended by irresponsible and offensive posts by individuals, and we apologise. We are equally upset and have shut down all activity.” Sometimes we just can't have nice things.
In more positive, related news, a separate part of the campaign currently comprises a pop-up ‘dug out’ on Queen Street in Cardiff, inviting fans and two of their friends to wait for the countdown from Lineker before standing up to wave. The wave is being projected on the digital billboard (below) opposite the dug out, with the brand encouraging participants to instantly share their part in the #WalkersWave across their social channels. Thus far the digital billboard remains mercifully unsullied.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK.