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Folgers refuses to help contestants after their video uploader crashes

This lady is happy because she managed to upload her jingle before the site started freezing up

Believe it or not, Folgers’ 2011 Jingle contest was one of the popular video contests in history.  According to the contest site, more than 3,000 entries were submitted and one lucky performer won $25,000.  The coffee company brought the contest back this year and once again they asked musicians to create their new jingle.  The songs could be done in any musical style; the only catch was that the new jingle needed to include the classic “The Best Part of Waking up….” melody and lyrics.  Twenty Five grand is a hell of a lot of money and so as expected, the 2013 contest was a huge success.  But in a way maybe it was a little too successful.  Too many people tried to upload their videos at the last minute (and by “last minute” I mean the final 24 hours before the deadline) and a lot of entries never got through.  People started to complain about the problem on Folgers’ facebook page the night before the deadline.  Here’s a screenshot:


But by the morning of the deadline, Folgers’ facebook wall was filling up with complaints.  Someone from the company finally left a comment and posted a number for their “call center.”  They said that someone at the call center would be able to help.

But of course no one at the call center knew how to fix an over-loaded website so calling the number didn’t do much good.  One disgruntled contestant e-mailed me and explained what happened to him:

I tried on multiple browsers a full 24 hours before the deadline, nothing worked. Uploaded to yousendit and sent them the link, also posted the link on facbeook but they ignored it.

I called the number they posted, no help. They said “they’d give my contact info to the promotions department who would be in touch with me shortly.” They never got in touch. I asked to speak directly to the promotions department, they wouldn’t put my through. I tweeted to them, no response to my tweets. I wrote back on the facebook page (along with a lot of other people complaining) but they wouldn’t do anything to help us.

As the noon deadline approached, people started freaking out.  Most of them had put a huge amount of time and energy into their entries and they were being screwed at the very last second by technical problems that were beyond their control.  Apparently some people who called Folgers were told to try uploading their videos using Internet Explorer.  That trick worked for some people but not for others.  Folders’ facebook wall was soon slammed with comments from worried songwriters:


A lot of people simply gave up and uploaded their videos to other sites.  Then they posted links on Folgers’ facebook wall to prove they TRIED to upload their video before the deadline:


I saw at least 5 posts like that and Folgers ignored them all.  Finally, about 7 hours after the deadline had passed, Folgers announced that the entry period was over and if a video wasn’t accepted it was because it didn’t fit the contest guidelines or because contestants had experienced “browser and Internet connection problems.”  So in the end they pushed all the blame onto the contestants and took no responsibility for their tech problems.  As you can probably guess, this didn’t go over too well with some people:


I didn’t personally enter the Folgers contest but I’ve been looking into this debacle and I’m positive that Folgers is 100% responsible for screwing up this contest.*  Their video uploader sucked and that’s all there is too it.  It wasn’t able to handle all the last minute submissions and it just crapped out and froze up.  And if Folgers knew that everyone should use Internet Explorer to upload their entries, why the heck didn’t they say so right from the start?  This is the 3rd time Folgers has run this contest and as I said, last time they got more than 3,000 entries.  Didn’t anyone realize that hundreds and maybe thousands of people would try and submit videos on the day of the deadline?

Of course, I can understand technical difficulties….they happen.  But Folgers’ reaction to these problems has simply been despicable.  I’d estimate that dozens of people weren’t able to get their videos uploaded because of Folgers’ last minute glitches.  Instead of trying to help these people, Folgers just threw up their arms and said basically said “Oh well! If you couldn’t get your video in it’s because YOU had a problem, not us!”  That’s no way to run a promotion, a facebook page or a business.  Folgers is supposed to announce a set of finalists this friday.  Maybe they’ll come to their senses and un-screw all their unhappy fans by re-opening the uploader for a few hours before then.

*POST SCRIPT:  It hit me that Folgers probably hired a third-party company to help them run their giant jingle contest.  It looks like they did and that company seems to be Momentum Worldwide which is a part of McCann.  Here’s how MW describes themselves:

Momentum Worldwide is the first and only marketing agency for the Phygital™ world and creates ideas that extend brand engagement with consumers through the interplay of experiences in both the physical and digital spaces. While the heritage of Momentum is built on live events and sponsorships, and our expertise now also spans sales promotion, sports, music and entertainment, shopper and digital marketing – we do not live in silos and are truly discipline-agnostic.

That has easily got to be the biggest load of marketing-speak bullshit I’ve ever seen. You know, it takes a certain kind of douche to come up with the word “phygital” but takes an even bigger douche to try and trademark the term.  Momentum Worldwide’s facebook page says that they’re in Austin for SXSW right now.  Guess that explains why they’re too busy to help the people that got screwed in the Folgers’ contest.

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2 Responses to “Folgers refuses to help contestants after their video uploader crashes”

  1. Joel says:

    As someone who got screwed by exactly what you wrote about, I can’t thank you enough for posting it. Even if it doesn’t do anything, at least they deserve some negative press for the lame response to those of us who spent 24 frustrating hours dealing with it.

  2. Marissa says:

    Oof, that’s pretty bad! It always strikes me as weird when contest promoters (who we assume are running a contest, in part, to gain favorable publicity) just end up pissing off consumers and fans. If they knew a sizable number of entrants were having trouble, they could have set up a temporary work-around and still enjoyed all the positive vibes. Instead, they’ve just raised the ire of fans all over their FB wall.

    Hopefully they get their act together and apologize. But, even if they don’t, this should serve as a warning to all contest entrants: get your videos in as early as possible!

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