Waitrose didn’t screw up with #Waitrosereasons social campaign

Waitrose suffers a social media and Twitter backlashSo was it a success or was a social media fail? Earlier we reported on how Waitrose’s latest foray into social media appeared to have gone awry.

It was hijacked by people making fun of the supermarket’s perceived top end social status on Twitter and Facebook. Launched on Monday the store asked shoppers to compete this tweet: “I shop at Waitrose because…” and add a hashtag.

Instead of using the #WaitroseReasons hashtag to celebrate why they loved Waitrose people were instead using it to say things such as “I shop at Waitrose because the parking spaces are big enough for one’s Range Rover yah? #waitrosereasons”.

But despite some suggesting the campaign had gone awry others are arguing that Waitrose has come out on top in part evidenced by how it thanked people on Twitter for the satirical replies it received:

This led some, like Social Media Influence, to ask if it were possible that a brand as well-to-do as Waitrose might actually have been poking fun at itself?

“After all, the fact that its main demographic is clearly minted can’t have escaped its notice, and I’m sure that – despite its groan-inducing punt at Facebook engagement – the brand will pay at least some heed to the comments it receives? Comments such as:  “Can we expect the purple organic to be a regular vegetable fixture at my local branch?” and “I prepared this recipe before my weekly country walk this weekend – it was perfect for afternoon tea!”. I’m sure these sorts of comments hold some vital clues as to the typical Waitrose customer, yes,” according to SMI. 

The view was echoed by Jason Woodford, CEO of digital marketing agency SiteVisibility. He gave the campaign a ten out of ten and suggests this has reinforced Waitrose’s brand values of quality and excellent service as a key point of differentiation from the other grocery chains.

“The ‘botched’ Twitter campaign which has made Waitrose a ‘laughing stock’ gets my full backing and a ten out of ten from me. Have we become that naïve to believe that one of our most respected supermarket chains wasn’t both prepared nor expecting such comments which  – and let’s choose this phrase carefully – reinforced its upmarket image.

“We are talking about one of our largest brands who I suspect fully appreciates who its clientele is and how they, and indeed the regulars of other supermarket chains, behave on social networking websites.”

Woodford added that any elements of “class bashing” have probably increased the ‘snob’ value of shopping at Waitrose amongst its target audience.

He says that is evidence of a clever marketing ploy from Waitrose and it has reinforced its brand values of quality and reliably excellent service as a key point of differentiation from the other grocery chains.

“Their marketing team and management has managed to reflect a personality as well by recognising the humorous elements of both their campaign and some of the responses its encouraged. I think they should give themselves a pat on the back. He who laughs last, laughs loudest,” says Woodford.

The argument that Waitrose has come out on top with this campaign is entirely persuasive. I am less convinced than some that it saw the trouble coming. I think it more likely that it came up with Waitrose reasons and saw what was happening on Twitter and Facebook and rode it out.

I think it is also almost certainly true that those who do shop at Waitrose don’t mind a big that it is perceived to have snob value as its customers secretly, or otherwise, like that.

The campaign has certainly not damaged its reputation and many of the tweets were very funny.

Full marks to Waitrose for holding its nerve and coming out on top. More than anything the campaign should help grow the supermarket’s quite small Twitter following (just 31,140) and Facebook fans (71,001) where it gets plenty of good engagement.