The Dub the Dew campaign must have seemed like such a good idea at the time. After all, letting the Internet choose the name for a green-apple infused soft drink is great marketing and helps build brand loyalty, right? What could possibly go wrong?
But promoters forgot just what they were dealing with when soliciting the opinion of the masses — these were, after all, the same people who exiled rapper Pitbull to a Walmart in Alaska. As could have been expected, the results of Dub the Dew were so offensive and useless that the entire promotion needed to be shut down.
(MORE: From the NYC Soda Ban Hearing: The Best Arguments For and Against)
“Hitler did nothing wrong,” “Diabeetus,” and “Gushing Granny” all topped the online rankings to name the new drink, which Mountain Dew describes as “Classic Mtn Dew with green apple attitude.” Other high ranking suggestions included “Soda” and “Sierra Mist,” but the online shenanigans did not stop there.
In addition to simply bombarding the poll with hilariously unusable names, the pranksters even went so far as to hack into the site, adding a banner that read “Mtn Dew salutes the Israeli Mossad for demolishing 3 towers on 9/11!” and a pop-up message that resulted in an unwanted RickRolling.
Although there are some differing claims as to who perpetrated the attack on Dub the Dew, the smart money is on 4Chan’s /b/ board — a subsection of the popular website that is known for online antagonism. In addition to fingering 4Chan as the brilliant minds behind “Soylent Green” flavored Mountain Dew, social news website Reddit also mocked the audacity of the Dew promotion.
(MORE: The Bieber-YouTube-Porn Hack: Are Hackers Getting Meaner?)
“When will companies learn that the internet isn’t a good tool to name new products?” one user wrote, listing some of the more famous recent examples of interactive marketing gone wrong: the Justin Bieber concert in North Korea; Pitbull’s Alaska trip; and iSnack 2.0.
Of course, as Reddit user Masamune_X notes on the same thread, the funniest example of an online poll going wrong is probably the ‘Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts’ leading the pack for the city-sponsored renaming of the Austin, Tex. Solid Waste Services Department.
Still, no report on online poll pranking would be complete without an admission that TIME is no stranger to 4Chan’s whims. In our 2009 TIME 100 poll, the website not only pushed its founder to the top of the rankings, but also played with the next 20 poll spots.
UPDATE: Mountain Dew has released the following statement:
“Dub the Dew,” a local market promotional campaign that was created by one of our customers – not Mountain Dew – was compromised. We are working diligently with our customer’s team to remove all offensive content that was posted and putting measures in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Mountain Dew has a legacy of engaging its most loyal fans to tap innovative ideas for the brand through really successful programs like “DEWMocracy” and “Your Malt Dew” and so we sincerely apologize to all of our fans who may have been offended by this customer’s program.
MORE: New New Coke: Zero Calories, No Fake Sugar and No Weird Aftertaste?