The popular Kiwi brand Ecostore has been torn to shreds online by customers angry over a stunt which saw them "recall" all their bottled products, although their CEO says there is "no need to worry" after the announcement.
The marketing fail led to hundreds of angry comments and their social media team scrambling to repair the damage.
It all went wrong yesterday, when Ecostore took to social media to announce a "permanent bottle recall".
Using a graphic that came complete with red text and an exclamation mark, the brand told customers: "Ecostore advises its customers that all bottles have been permanently recalled. More details to be announced soon at recall.ecostore.com".
The replies came thick and fast, with customers urgently seeking more information.
"Recall? I'm using the laundry liquid for my newborn's clothing!!" wrote one person, asking: "Why are the products being recalled???!!"
In response to the flood of messages, Ecostore sought to clarify the situation by responding to comments to let customers know that the "recall" was a change to the brand's recycling strategy and that all products were safe.
"All ecostore products are completely safe, but we know there are always ways we can improve the impact our packaging has on the environment, which is why we are launching the Permanent Bottle Recall," they wrote.
"Simply finish the product and hold on to your bottle. All information will be revealed this Wednesday."
Outraged customers slammed the popular brand for the stunt, with one describing it as "terrible scare tactic marketing".
"Wow, how to lose a customer!!" another wrote. "Very poor way to get attention unless there is actually something wrong with your product, and no amount of explaining or back pedalling can undo bad communication in the first instance."
"If your intention is to create uncertainty about the safety of your products you've succeeded; as a marketing strategy it's a fail folks. Especially in these uncertain times. I'm off to find another brand to purchase. You've compromised your brand Ecostore," a comment said.
In responses to customers, Ecostore admitted the "recall" had been done simply to get attention.
"The Permanent Bottle Recall is designed to grab attention and provides an opportunity for New Zealanders to work together to take pressure off Aotearoa's overwhelmed recycling system," they wrote.
The brand eventually relented by changing the original post and updating their website to customers could see the full details of the "recall".
The site revealed that Ecostore is moving to a "closed loop recycling system" that will see customers return bottles to locations nationwide and the bottles recycled directly back into Ecostore products.
They also went back on to Facebook with a new post that better explained the change, but the brand's communication left some customers cold.
"If you have to explain yourself dozens of times to your lost loyal customers - you have failed at basic communication," wrote one disgruntled customer, who also questioned whether the move could send customers heading to less eco-friendly products.
"Your marketing head should be questioned about their abilities to make quality decisions here," they added.
"This could do severe brand damage - which is a worry for the environment as some people will look elsewhere for products, and could quite easily resort to less eco-friendly options. Which is a huge disappointment."
Ecostore Group CEO Pablo Kraus told the Herald that customers had "no need to worry" and the products were "completely safe".
"The Permanent Bottle Recall campaign highlights an opportunity for New Zealanders to work together to take the pressure off our overwhelmed recycling system and present a new solution for how we manage our plastic bottles," Kraus said in a statement.
"There is no need to worry about our products – they're completely safe. The Permanent Bottle Recall is designed to get people's attention, to highlight the urgency of a very serious problem and demonstrate how Kiwis can be part of the solution.
"On Wednesday morning, alongside Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, we'll be announcing how we plan to recall our bottles for reuse."