This reddit case study post focuses on a poorly received ad for the game World Of Warplanes and their brand, in which the advertiser missed an opportunity to manage their reputation within a negative comment thread by positively engage with redditors and benefiting from their criticism.
Starting in early May, an ad for the PC game World Of Warplanes targeted gaming subreddits with a simple headline: “Now you can fly history’s greatest warplanes in World Of Warplanes. Available now!” The ad drove to a trailer on (the game developer) Wargaming’s site.
The ad sparked nearly 200 comments in 14 days, although with a negative approval rating (indicating that more people downvoted the ad than upvoted). A bulk of the negative comments within the comment thread came from fans of a competitor game called War Thunder, whose subreddit of 17k users was one of the recipients of the World Of Warplanes ad. The War Thunder community took the opportunity to post several negative comments criticizing the inferior gameplay of World Of Warplanes. One highly upvoted negative comment within the thread hypothesized that War Thunder’s game developer, Gaijin, was actually behind the World Of Warplanes ad, so to jokingly rile the War Thunder community.
Unfortunately, this wave of criticism and negative comments directed towards the brand within the thread was only met with silence from the advertiser, rather than the appropriate reputation management. World Of Warplanes could have turned these negative comments into constructive criticism by responding to commentors and asking them to more thoroughly explain their thoughts. This type of reputation management within the reddit comment thread could have potentially lead to actionable insights for the World Of Warplanes developers. The lack of responses from World Of Warplanes turned the promoted thread into a one-sided onslaught against the advertiser.
A similar strategy of properly managing negative comment threads and brand reputation while turn comments into actionable insights was enacted by Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer had a very poor reputation among the reddit community, but nonetheless requested their constructive criticism about the newest Internet Explorer in hopes of improving it even further. There were indeed many negative reviews and comments from users, but the reddit and Internet Explorer teams responded positively, this helped manage their only reputation properly, and showed that Internet Explorer did indeed plan to act on some comments from redditors.
It’s okay that World Of Warplanes decided to target the War Thunder community, as that is a group that has already demonstrated interest in air combat PC games. However, it would have been wise to enter with a clear strategy on how to harness negative feedback into constructive discussions, in order to keep their reputation within the reddit community intact. And to push it even farther, World Of Warplanes could have taken out another ad later that thanked the War Thunder community for providing positive feedback (and maybe even distribute some reddit gold) like Nissan did in their Versa Note campaign.
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