A company has been running a Facebook "fan" page that uses IKEA's name, Web site URL, logo, and other creative elements, giving the impression it's a brand-delivered offer. The page appeared earlier today, and similar Facebook occurrences have reportedly plagued the Swedish retailer four times in the last month.
The program centered on a free $1,000 IKEA gift card. To sign up, Facebook users were instructed to invite all of their friends on the social site to become fans. And many have taken the bait. From noon to 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time today, 8,000 people became Facebook fans of the page titled, "IKEA Get a FREE $1000 IKEA Gift Card! (ONLY AVAILABLE 1 DAY)." The page registered 40,000 fans overall before being shut down around 3:30 p.m.
Within three hours, another Fan page using the IKEA logo and the same offer appeared on Facebook.
Those who chased the offer were taken to an affiliate marketing page hosted by GiftDepotDirect.com, where they were asked for information such as name, address, date of birth, and telephone number. From there, they were led through a multi-question survey and were then presented with lead-gen ads from Netflix, Vonage, CreditReport.com, car loan marketers, and vacation/cruise advertisers.
According to online measurement firm Quantcast, it received 65,000 visitors in March after struggling to amass between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors during previous months. The sudden spike in traffic suggests that the Canadian firm may have found a winning formula in Facebook fan pages.
GiftDepotDirect.com's operations are located in Bolton, Ontario, Canada, according to its Web site. Company executives could not be reached for comment. The firm's phone number nor e-mail address were listed on its Web site. The use of IKEA's logo on an unauthorized IKEA fan page appears to be in violation of trademark law. A trademarked brand logo was used for the initiative. In addition, static/un-clickable fan comments and "likes" were included on the page. Typically, comment activity on Facebook fan pages are interactive. Here are two examples of copy seen on the fan page:
We are offering this special, 24-hour promotion to encourage people to shop at IKEA."
IKEA hasn't addressed the latest brand identity hijacking on Facebook. However, the brand posted the following comment on its official fan page on March 25, another day in which IKEA found itself wearing an affiliate marketer's black hat:
"ALERT! Again, the 'FREE IKEA $1,000 GIFT CARD' PROMO has appeared. It's not an IKEA endorsed campaign. The 3rd of these campaigns came up yesterday. We have had Facebook take down the two campaigns and now there is a third. We just want everyone to know this situation still exists. We are terribly sorry if anyone was misled. We are doing all we can under the Facebook guidelines."
IKEA today didn't respond to interview requests. However, spokesperson Mona Astra Liss addressed the issue while speaking to WalletPop.com on March 24. "Needless to say, this is most frustrating," she said.
According to the report, Liss said that IKEA's legal team persuaded Facebook to take down earlier appearances of the phony fan pages. "As social media is a new frontier for us all, we are in the process of figuring out how we get to the source of this situation," she said. "It deeply concerns us that our customers are being misled and exploited."
Facebook spokesperson Simon Axeton suggested the company would become more responsive as the social site develops a monitoring system for fan pages. "Bad guys are always coming up with new attack vectors, and this is the latest," Axeton said. "That's why we have a team closely monitoring the issue and deleting groups and pages as we discover them or they're brought to our attention by our users. It's also why we've started building an automated system to detect this type of suspicious content and behavior more quickly before it's even reported."
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
March 19, 2014