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I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday

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21 September 2012

Foie Gras
Let’s face it. Value foie gras is just not on.

The #waitrosereasons Twitter campaign launched by the supermarket chain on Monday was swiftly deemed a #socialmediafail by many.

Much of the response it elicited was indeed critical and was laced with references to the brand’s upper-classism and snobbery (“I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday”). Still, the net effect looks like a #WIN.

There’s certainly more than a dozen focus groups’ worth of information in the #waitrosereasons Twitter feed – although it’s unlikely that most of this information is entirely new to the brand.

Along with a predictable increase in attention (from a low-cost campaign), the reactions have also contributed to emphasising the Waitrose brand values of high-quality products and service and differentiating Waitrose from other supermarkets.

Whether the brand had expected these kind of reactions or not, the @Waitrose Twitter response comes across as genuine, and rather charmingly a little taken aback: “Thanks for all the genuine and funny #waitrosereasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them”.

Right now every social media blogger and his mum are quibbling over whether Waitrose saw it coming or not. But much more interesting are the possibilities for engagement that a situation like this actually offers.

Had the social media team been ready at the keyboards to counter a potential backlash and respond real-time in a humorous way (in an on-brand tone of voice, naturellement) there’s no doubt they could have made even more of the opportunity.

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