The Perils of UGC ... Malibu Rum

2793backlash_2 Seeing these stories more and more.  You just get the sense that brands don't know what they are getting themselves into when they put all the power in the consumers' hands.  The latest incident involves Malibu Caribbean Rum

Malibu solicited entries for a contest ('you design our commercial' type thing) from the YouTube community.  But when the winner was announced it caused a backlash of negativity, with many people accusing Malibu of rigging the contest.  From an article in the NY Times:

"The winner, however, was posted Monday, and finalists were not publicly named. Some consumers who lost the contest were quick to start a rumbling on YouTube message boards that the contest had been rigged — a charge that Malibu denied.

One YouTube user even made a six-minute conspiracy theory video that compared images from a professional Malibu commercial promoting the contest with the winner’s video, saying in part: “Wow, the same nose!? The same guy? You be the judge!”

The article goes on to say:

"Many well-known brands — like Doritos, Heinz and Dove — have recently held their own user-generated commercial contests, but these contests are often difficult to manage. And they do not always generate many entries — despite large cash prizes. In Malibu’s case there were 270 entries, though only 84 qualified to be posted on the YouTube site, said a spokeswoman for the Thomas Collective, the public relations agency that managed the contest."

Attention agency people and brand managers everywhere:  Be careful what you wish for when you run these types of promotions, and ALWAYS have your PR team briefed in so they can manage any backlash.