Boaty McBoatFace: Five times marketers gave the public control... and regretted it


By John McCarthy | Media editor

March 21, 2016 | 7 min read

Throughout history democracy has wrought havoc upon ill-prepared empires. Now brands big and small, looking to appear more transparent to the public, often crowdsource names, ideas and designs – and trolls are all too aware they can hijack the stunts for their own capricious kicks.

Boaty McBoatface

Boaty McBoatface

Unless you’ve been living in a Cavey McCaveFace you’re probably aware that trolls have seized the Natural Environment Research Council's (Nerc) #NameOurShip campaign, opting to name a £200m Royal Research Ship RRS Boaty McBoatFace.

True to form, the title sits above RRS Henry Worsley and RRS David Attenborough, with the public intent on having the absurdly titled ship set sail to Antarctica and the Arctic.

Below are five times marketers handed the reins to the public, and perhaps wished they hadn't...

5. Years before Boaty McBoatFace graced our screens, the Kirkleatham Owl Centre in Cleveland, UK opted to let those who adopt owls name said birds. The initiative took a turn for the worse when one Lee Dixon (not the former footballer) opted to call his owl, Hooty McOwlface.

The football star disavowed any rumoured ownership of the bird back in 2013.

4. Next, Many were surprised when EA Sports announced that Liverpool FC player Jordan Henderson was to appear on the UK’s Fifa 16 alongside sporting great Lionel Messi following a public poll. Many were surprised with the news, as Henderson had to face off the likes of Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero. At the time, Arsenal and Manchester United players were absent from the list, leading many to suspect Henderson’s selection was a troll of the vote by embittered fans of the game.

Leo Messi and er, Jordan Henderson?

Posted by Sky Sports on Friday, 10 July 2015

3. Somewhat more expectantly, a bunch of Australian Primary School kids were handed the honour of naming an emu.

The children of Havenview Primary School in Australia branded this poor emu they were sponsoring as Spazzie McGee, no doubt to the horror of zoo administrators, parents, teachers and animal lovers across the world.

2. Sticking to Australasia, New Zealand opened up the their national identity to would-be designers, asking them to submit a replacement for the New Zealand Blue Ensign flag.

Countless Microsoft Paint submissions featuring the Kiwi were entered in the ultimate act of sabotage and trollsmanship.



The absurd entries have been purged from the competition - but not our nightmares.

1. And finally, Coca-Cola comes first by putting a great deal of trust the the public with its new global Gif the Feeling activation.

Hopping onto the Gif bandwagon and allowing consumers to get involved with the 'Taste the Feeling' strapline, Coca-Cola opened up the creative evil of the internet, allowing users to insert personalised Gifs atop its creative...

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