According to IOL, Durban's campaign in the international 2014 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge is alleged to have fake social media profiles to boost the city's chances of winning.
IOL: Durban promo campaign 'fake'... according to the IOL report, "Durban's reputation has been tainted in an international online climate change competition". This was after a blogger discovered that fake social media profiles have been created to boost the city's chances of winning, and the agency employed by the eThekwini municipality to carry out the campaign (at a cost of R500,000 for 10 days) is, according to the IOL report, "accused of being behind the alleged manipulation."
The IOL report goes on to say that last night, "Barbara Evaeus, from the WWF, said what was happening went against the whole idea of positive engagement, which was what the competition was about. She said the WWF was aware of the fraudulent profiles and was working on disqualifying votes they generated."
Yesterday listeners to Cape Town's Cape Talk 567 radio station were encouraged to vote "as Durban is ahead of us"; one cynic was heard to remark, "Well now we know why."
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A social media campaign at a cost of R500,000 for 10 days?
The campaign involved two Facebook status updates a week, uploading three pictures on Facebook a week, sending a bulk e-mail (I wonder why I missed this one), tweeting with the hashtag #weloveDurban, uploading YouTube videos, uploading 20 images to Instagram and advertising on the website (what was the CPM rate?).
I have run campaigns for clients and R500,000 is too much.
Everyone forgets that anyone can purchase Twitter followers for any Twitter account.
I wouldn't be surprised if competing agencies bought the followers in order to make the primary agency look bad. This might sound like a conspiracy theory but I know at least two campaigns where this has happened.