Photographer: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Tweeters Hijack Walkers Potato-Chip Campaign

  • U.K.’s Walkers Crisps ends Twitter sports-ticket promotion
  • Pepsi-owned brand calls posts ‘irresponsible and offensive’

Walkers Crisps, a division of PepsiCo Inc., shut down an online marketing campaign that was hijacked by pranksters, after the company inadvertently tweeted images of criminals and dictators in a mix-up that highlights the pitfalls of social media.

In a promotion that encouraged people to send in selfies to win sports tickets, some instead submitted pictures of the likes of Josef Stalin and British serial killer Harold Shipman, which Walkers automatically tweeted out alongside a pre-recorded video with Gary Lineker, a former soccer star who endorses the potato-chip brand.

“We recognize people were offended by irresponsible and offensive posts by individuals, and we apologize,” Walkers said in an emailed statement. “We are equally upset and have shut down all activity.”

The incident is the second marketing hiccup in recent months for Pepsi, the U.S. consumer-goods giant, after it withdrew an ad for its Pepsi soft drink that was accused of trivializing the “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality.

“Whenever doing anything online these days you need to think of the worst-case scenario,” said Moray MacLennan, M&C Saatchi’s worldwide chief executive officer. “People should’ve learned that by now.”

Dead professional wrestler Chris Benoit, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and deceased child molester Jimmy Savile were also tweeted out as part of the prank, which was trending on Twitter under the hashtag “WalkersWave.”

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