Hashtag Campaigns: Wins and Fails

Hashtags are a social media phenomena and, if you haven’t realised already, this multi-faceted icon “#” is extremely advantageous at bringing communities together, sharing ideas and images, promoting events, breaking world news, advertising new products or plugging brands. Unfortunately, with one small typo, unfortunate timing, or a lack of awareness as to general public consensus or knowledge of the brand/business/celebrity, then you are probably just asking for a detrimental hashtag-fail to happen.

We’ve collated the good, the bad, and the ugly in an attempt to warn, advise and also amuse our readers who may be about to launch a hashtag social media campaign. There’s a few tips along the way too, just in case you need them.



Red Bull were quick and innovative – they took user-generated content found on Twitter and ran with it. An image of someone holding a Red Bull can above a car, making it look exactly like a trademarked Red Bull car, resulted in Red Bull inviting others to do the same with the hashtag ‘#PutACanOnIt’. This resulted in almost 10,000 original and inventive photos and videos tweeted, producing an abundance of free advertising for the beverage company, and they won “Best Use of A Hashtag” at Shorty Awards in 2014.

Images sourced / more info: http://shortyawards.com/7th/putacanonit


Audi began their #WantAnR8 campaign in 2011, and it received a record response from followers and fans. It offered followers the chance of winning an incredible prize – an Audi R8 for the weekend – just for tweeting them with the hashtag. #WantAnR8 was initially invented by a keen and over-enthused Audi fan who relentlessly tweeted at Audi with the hashtag. The brand instantly saw the chance to monopolise the use of the hashtag and gave the fan her wish by loaning her the keys to a brand new R8. This ensured #WantAnR8 turned into a promoted trend, which resulted in Audi giving five more people the opportunity to drive their dream car for a weekend.

Here are the numbers for Audi’s campaign:

  • 50,000 people tweeted in first 24 hours
  • Twitter account grew over 200% during week of promoted trend
  • Over 100,000,000 impressions since inception
  • Generated one of the most engaging tweets of all time (50.4% engagement)



It may not be a luxury R8, but it’s something we all use every day. Toilet paper. Being slightly mundane, and a bit visceral to think about, toilet paper isn’t the most exciting product to promote on social media…. Not for Charmin’ though. This toilet paper manufacturer knows exactly how to engage and entertain their followers. Their campaign ‘#TweetFromTheSeat’ wasn’t flushed down the toilet by any means! They got people to use the hashtag when they, well, were sat on the toilet. Toilet humour might be somewhat juvenile, but it benefitted from the fact that 40% of young adults use social media in the bathroom. It’s worked though; I mean, how else could a tissue brand have 77,000 followers on Twitter?




A large majority of Donald Trump’s supporters started a hashtag to encourage the new president, support him and let him know he’s doing a great job so far. However, naturally, not everyone on Twitter felt like supporting him. #ThankYouTrump has been impressively hijacked by those who really don’t want to support Trump, and even more so, don’t agree that he’s doing a good job in his new role.



In the world of social media, not even the elite and polite British supermarket Waitrose is safe from a Twitter bombarding. This retailer began an innocent tweet to its followers, asking if they would finish an open-ended sentence, “I shop at Waitrose because _____.


#WaitroseReasons”. Waitrose anticipated valuable conversation about their high quality foods, luxurious desserts, or fresh and tasty produce. The people of Twitter took this opportunity to criticise the perhaps grandiose and elite tone of the grocery brand. Waitrose didn’t expect this kind of backlash on their hashtag. You can never expect or predict positivity from your followers; open-ended sentences are asking for trouble. Examples below….



Generated by the PR team for Britain’s Got Talent contestant and singer Susan Boyle, the intention was to promote her new album. However, it is pretty obvious as to why it was branded as one of the most horrendous hashtag fails of all time. Althoug

h it is meant to read “Susan-album-party,” it was interpreted in an entirely different way by the people of Twitter. “Su’s-anal-bum-party” trended within seconds and it was really not for the right reasons. Despite it being quite embarrassing (I mean, where was there their proof reader?), it did create a huge attraction (not in that way) to Susan Boyle online and increased her album sales. The PR team did delete the tweet, but the ruin of Susan Boyle’s album, nothing else, had already happened.


Emily Johnson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s