Unexpected Demand for Wired UK Giveaway Sparks Crisis

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    Predict the problems that come with your promos, or run afoul of your fans

    You would expect Wired, a magazine focused on the world of tech, to be prepared for a promotional offer to go viral, but the ugly aftermath of a promotion from the UK shows it was anything but.

    Wired offered new subscribers a “Misfit Flash” fitness watch, an item that typically costs about 5x more than the subscription itself, for free in the print version of its magazine, but after the deal was posted to deal sharing site HotUKDeals demand far outpaced the supply available.

    After several days of delays and general unresponsiveness, the magazine began sending highly unsatifying responses to inquiring subscribers who were expecting their Misfit watch, including the one below:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I am sorry to report that we have run out of the gift.

    Even though our offers are always subject to availability, we were supplied with a generous number of items to make sure WIRED readers would not miss out. While this promotion was only published in the printed copy of WIRED, one individual took the initiative to leak the offer on http://www.hotukdeals.co.uk.

    As a result we received a large number of orders online after the offer was made public. We are looking into a solution and will be contacting as soon as possible.

    Wired completely blew through the stock they had on hand, and put yet more bad communications into practice with its official statement to the BBC:

    “The take-up has far surpassed anything equivalent run in the past, and the limited stocks – which were subject to availability as outlined in the terms and conditions – have run out. We have been working hard to find an alternative, and are pleased to offer a six-month extension to the subscription. Letters have been sent to those affected, which they will receive this week. For anyone not satisfied with this, a refund will be available.”

    This is hardly an effective form of crisis management messaging, and all we got out of it was the impression of an utter lack of compassion and understanding from Wired for its audience. It may be a downer around the meeting table, but predicting ways promotions could backfire is absolutely essential to avoiding the reputation hit that comes with failing to live up to your word.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

    – See more at: https://management.org/blogs/crisis-management/2015/01/27/branding-your-business-to-boost-reputation/#sthash.E1Ec5Y0Q.dpuf