What a week for ‘follicley” challenged Wayne Rooney, on Tuesday night he headed in from less than 6 yards to be installed as a national hero, then, only a few days later he and Nike were slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for incorrectly advertising on twitter.
To set the scene, earlier in the year the ASA received a complaint about the following tweet, stating that the tweet wasn’t “identifiable as marketing communications”.
“My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion…#makeitcount gonike.me/makeitcount”.
The ASA quite rightly upheld the complaint and the watchdog, for the first time, banned a Twitter campaign.
Apart from the legal breach of the advertising code this also broke the unofficial rule of Twitter ‘Thou shall not advertise’. In a week that should have seen Rooney gain Twitter followers, it actually saw him lose followers. Before the controversy he had over 4.8 million followers – a quick look yesterday showed that he had lost at least 400,000 followers and all because he wasn’t open and honest and broke that unofficial rule.
The headlines around this and the subsequent ruling showed that promoting via social media is still in its infancy and that companies are still trying to guage how far they can go without stepping over the line. It shows that even a media savvy company like Nike still haven’t got this medium sussed, thus illustrating the dilemma facing every marketing or advertising team out there.
However, all this has actually damaged Rooney far more then it has Nike. People and companies need to be careful if they don’t want to damage their brand. Rooney should be using the medium to talk to his fan base, not turning them off by selling out to his sponsors. He may have been able to grow back his hair but he won’t be able to grow back his Twitter community quite so easily, especially if he continues to score own goals and ignore the commandment ‘Thou shall not advertise’.