As part of their 40th birthday celebration, New Zealand’s National Business Review co-sponsored one of those seemingly simple social media contests with Veuve Clicquot. The winner gets his or her weight in Veuve Clicquot, and the way you enter is to go to the NBR website and write a paragraph on how you would dispose of so much Champagne if you had it.
The planners of this particular episode in social media promotion were no doubt thinking that the winner would be someone writing a gauzy paean to France’s most romantic wine. Which, of course, a lot of the entrants did.
But someone named Busted Blonde, who is a blogger and an apparently large-boned woman, filed the following entry:
I weigh heaaaps! So on the back of my successful 50th birthday in Wellington where I fed 50 people on Lobster and Bluff Oysters, I would hold a ” Just because you can” kick-arse picnic on a pontoon in Frank Kitts Lagoon. However, everyone would have to dress up and pretend to be complete wankers – which shouldnt be too hard!
And then Busted Blonde — who I think no longer has a blog, having moved her opining entirely to Twitter — emails and tweets all her blogging buddies urging them to promote her candidacy. It would be a good joke, making a 220 pound fat girl the winner of a contest that paid off her weight in expensive, glamorous wine. A pranksterish act of vengeance against the wealthy and fashionable, in fact, and Busted Blonde’s blog buddies went to work promoting her candidacy with all the enthusiasm of teenagers throwing eggs at a group of cheerleaders. It became quite the blogger crusade:
Busted Blonde is still in the lead, but it could be close. Go to NBR and vote for her (click on thumbs up sign next to her entry), so BB wins her weight in Veuve Clicquot. This is the final day of voting.
You can imagine how the corporate promoters, flush with social media enthusiasm, felt when they started to click-through all of those links into the NBR website and read things like this:
Now the fat slapper (Busted Blonde) has said she has been putting in the effort on the boil-up so it would be a shame to miss out. Busted, in between mouthfuls of Pizza, pork and puha, and gobs of cold mutton bird has mumbled that there are 3 places at the party avail able deserving candidates.
It is not precisely the glamorous image Champagne houses generally try to put forward, and one can well imagine the conversations as Busted Blonde’s vote total rose to the top and stayed there. Her main competition was a man who’d been engaged for a long time and promised to use the Champagne at his wedding reception. Or, as one blogger elegantly put it:
Her biggest competition thus far is from Joe Holden who has been with his partner for 18 years and will only marry her cos of free piss? What’s the bet he has a body like a half sucked throatie as well.
While I’m not entirely certain what that means, I’m pretty sure it’s not something Veuve Clicquot would like to put on a poster.
As it happened, Busted Blonde, as one blogger put it, “won by a margin as large as her arse.” But then the geniuses at New Business Review and Veuve Clicquot went behind closed doors and exercised their prerogatives under the rules, announcing that that someone slightly less hillbilly-ish had won. Apparently figuring that they could buy the fat girl and her blogging buddies off, they awarded Busted Blonde a previously unmentioned Miss Congeniality award: The Social Media Award. They offered her a magnum of Veuve Cliquot and, I think, a bag of Cheetohs or something.
The business logic behind that decision is flawless. As one of the calmer observers put it:
If I was wanting to promote my product to discerning readers and drinkers I wouldn’t want the word “wanker” in the winning entry.
The problem is, the anarchic world of social media doesn’t recognize business logic, and the next thing NBR and Veuve Clicquot knew they were in the middle of the online equivalent of a riot. The photo at right — a representation of Busted Blonde puking Veuve Clicquot, but not Busted Blonde herself — started making the rounds, and the slanders were flying so fast those typing them didn’t even have time to punctuate.
Quite simply NBR and Veuve Clicquot can no longer be trusted as either a source for news or as a decent luxury brand when they blatantly make up rules as they go along and when an outcome doesn’t suit their PR firms pitch for the competition just completely rubbish the input of the thousands of people who in good faith voted for Busted Blonde, including we must add many members of the media who were looking forward to consuming free piss on someone’s ticket.
There was, suddenly, serious talk of a nationwide boycott of Veuve Clicquot. A Facebook page popped up and it seemed like every misfit who’d ever been insulted back in high school was coming out of the woodwork, spoiling for a fight.
At some point, back in the NBR boiler room, a no-doubt-fashionable grown up with no real understanding of bloggers and their outrages, stepped in and said something like:
Jesus. Give her the fucking wine, already.
NBR has this morning published a full-page apology, announcing that it “unreservedly apologises for the confusion surround ing our 40th birthday competition”, and to boot, “the publisher will personally provide Busted Blonde’s weight in Veuve Clicquot to her to demonstrate that NBR will not allow its integrity, transparency or honesty in its dealings with its readers to be compromised in any way.”
And all over the Southern Hemisphere, blogging losers and misfits are celebrating. And the big payoff is recognition from Jancis Robinson, something of a misfit herself in a lot of ways, who tweeted:
@bustedblonde Congratulations! Social media have the power to leech multiple kilos of Veuve C from tight fists
And so it is that one wag said, in wrapping the whole episode, that if you live by social media you die by social media.
UPDATE: I changed a couple of words for accuracy sake after hearing from some of the players in this drama (see comments) and fixed a couple of links. Thanks for the input.