Scoot's marketing stunt turns ugly

It looks like Scoot got more than it bargained for when it lured fans to an online game with attractive prizes and then had a massive technical glitch.

At 9pm yesterday the budget carrier launched its Facebook game that was created to thank customers for support during its first year of operations titled "World's Longest Virtual Flight".

The game is currently still on going. All contestants had to do was tap or click the "Scoot Virtual Flight" every 60 seconds throughout the contest period and  the contestant who outlasts the rest will walk away with SG$20,000 cash and free Scoot flights for a year.

While Scoot clearly reinforced that participants needed to be responsible for the stability of their own internet connections for the game, turbulence hit when many participants were not able to board the virtual flight.

These virtual passengers then took to Scoot's Facebook page, flooding it with angry comments.

It is obvious the game was hugely successful in luring users, but it appears the sheer numbers are making the situation harder for Scoot with the glitch.

Fans quickly began turning on the brand.

"Even [Scoot's] virtual flight are delayed," said one participant, while another added that Scoot should not have gone on with the contest as it is unfair for those who registered but never got in.

Another participant, who was actually able to take part in the game said he was timed out by the system after a message prompted that the game was "experiencing some turbulence". The user expressed his unhappiness adding that he had taken a day off work just to participate in the contest.

To Scoot's defense however, it has been constantly updating its Facebook page with posts on how it was fixing the technical glitches and promising to account to those who were unable to participate due to the technical faults within the next few days.

When contacted by Marketing, an official spokesperson said prior to the contest launch, it had conducted many tests, including load tests that catered for thousands of people playing the game at the same time.

"The tests had no indications of being unable to cater for the load and our technical team is investigating why some fans were unable to board the flight."

He added that the brand understands the frustrations of participants who missed out due the "huge surge of participants trying to board concurrently."

Scoot also added that there will be another such opportunity in the future and extended apologies to those who were unable to participate.

'Unprepared for backlash'

According to Natasha Zhao, lead consultant, Blugrapes while the contest mechanic were fun and novel, it did not work well in reality and Scoot seemed unprepared for the present backlash.

She added that much like the social media meltdown McDonald's is facing with its Hello Kitty craze, Scoot did not anticipate the extent of the response and did not have a pre-crisis plan established for these customer issues.

Kimberly Olsen, business development director for Vocanic Singapore said that as fans are now piling onto other threads and beginning to talk about other non-contest related customer service issues, Scoot actually needs to cease posting any more positive promotions about the contest as it will only rile disgruntled fans and create more room for negative feedback.

They need to immediately begin addressing all comments in the thread while the contest bugs and issues are being resolved.

Olsen also added for a page the size of Scoot's, a thread that receives more than 50 comments should already raise alarm bells to trigger a crisis response strategy.

"This should never have become a crisis, as it is actually a good problem to have, however, the reason why it did was simply because Scoot did not actively deal with the complaints in the thread in a timely manner."