The burger giveaways in the "#1 Fan, 'Woody'" campaign were scheduled to end after the initial 500,000 people signed up for a coupon during September. But then a few unexpected things came into play for the brand and its agency, Publicis New York.

During the soft launch beginning on Sept. 2, when only seeded videos at YouTube and the campaign's Facebook page were in play, the viral took off. More than 50,000 viewers signed up in the first 36 hours. An e-mail campaign was sent out on September 4, before TV ads and online display promos went live right after Labor Day. The 500,000 goal was reached by the following Sunday, Sept. 13.

Lastly, a bit of a backlash ensued on Monday, as viewers who were seeing the ads and then signed up for the free burgers ultimately discovered that they were too late. The fictional character created for the campaign, "Woody," was taking all kinds of abuse from Facebook "fans." At that juncture, the branding effect wasn't what anyone had in mind.

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