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Veuve boycott by bloggers in New Zealand

Champagne brand Veuve Clicquot and New Zealand’s weekly newspaper National Business Review (NBR) have enraged bloggers over a controversial social media competition.

To celebrate the paper’s 40th birthday, Veuve Clicquot was offering one inventive reader their body weight in the famous bubbly, but accusations that the competition was unfair has precipitated a boycott.

The Champagne was due to go to the most imaginative suggestion for drinking this generous quantity of fizz and the competition was advertised on the NBR website’s homepage.

News of the competition spread rapidly on numerous social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

However, the situation soured after the clear winner in terms of votes, Busted Blonde, was informed after the closing date of the competition (20 August) that while she had received the highest number of votes, she was not the overall winner, and would not be receiving her body weight of 100kg in Veuve Clicquot.

Instead, she was awarded a previously unmentioned “social media” prize and a magnum of Champagne – representing in no way her actual and considerable weight, her fans added in disgust.

Meanwhile, the chosen winner will not be announced until this Friday, contrary to the date stipulated in the competition’s terms and conditions.

Within hours of her rejection as overall winner, the virtual airwaves were buzzing with angry comments from disgruntled Busted Blonde fans, as well as a growing number of social media patrons who felt that the two companies involved in the competition had abused the trust of social media users.

While both NBR and Veuve Clicquot are covered by a clause in the terms and conditions, allowing them the freedom to change the rules of the competition at their discretion, as well as allowing judges final say in who is the overall winner, the fact that the competition took such a main-stage online stance in encouraging people to vote has enraged web-based fans.

There is now a move to boycott both NBR and Veuve Clicquot, fuelled by a Facebook page that is continually growing in numbers.

NBR has this morning published a full-page apology, announcing that it "unre­servedly apol­o­gises for the con­fu­sion sur­round­ing our 40th birth­day com­pe­ti­tion", and to boot, "the pub­lisher will per­son­ally pro­vide Busted Blonde’s weight in Veuve Clic­quot to her to demon­strate that NBR will not allow its integrity, trans­parency or hon­esty in its deal­ings with its read­ers to be com­pro­mised in any way."

Nevertheless, Busted Blonde, will still not be recognised as the winner, despite being awarded her body weight in bottles (62 x 750ml bottles).

It now transpires that the reason for her entry being relegated to "social media winner" rather than the overall winner, is that her entry was considered too crass (it contained expletives) and as a result not a hugely desirable association for the brand.

But the ever-effervescing temper of the bloggers has not been calmed, as the current quarrel is that she is not receiving her weight in Champagne, but in Champagne bottles.

As one blogger puts it: "[NBR] had a com­pe­ti­tion, they enlisted social media, they changed the rules and got smashed via social media. It isn’t good enough to get away with­out a penalty pay­ment, and I say they should pay her weight in Cham­pagne, as per the terms and con­di­tions, with­out the bottle."

This tale is yet another example of the dangers of dabbling in social-media for promotional purposes. 

Marinel FitzSimons, 26.08.2010

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