- Germany's most successful club Bayern Munich commit the ultimate public relations own goal
- Bayern announce a 'spectacular' new signing only to reveal a Facebook gimmick
- Their new 'app' allows users of the social networking site to appear as a new club signing
- Over 5,000 people complained and the club were forced into an apology
It was supposed to be a unique way to engage with their fans via social media -- but for Germany's most successful soccer club it turned into the ultimate public relations own goal.
Bayern Munich, who can boast 22 German league titles and have four times been crowned champions of Europe, revealed they would be unveiling a "spectacular" new signing on Thursday -- a snippet of news to excite any fan.
But when the announcement was made, on their official Facebook page, it turned out to be a new marketing tool that displayed users of the social networking site as the new signing.
The gimmick immediately led to a backlash from angry supporters, who bombarded the club's Facebook page with over 5,000 largely negative comments -- forcing Bayern into a hasty retreat, complete with an apology.
According to one sports PR expert, Bayern's concept was clever, but their execution undoubtedly missed the target.
"The idea of enticing people online is a nice one but the fundamental problem is you don't do that so they end up feeling disappointed," Jason Madeley, founder of communications agency Hatch PR, told CNN.
"What Bayern have failed to understand is the passion football fans have for their team and their excitement about getting a new striker.
"They feel like they've been taken for a fool and what you can't do with fans is take them for a fool, you need to respect them as integral to the club and that brand. They've not thought it through very well."
Within hours of their 'announcement' Bayern had posted the following statement on their Facebook page: "Sorry dear fans, as we see from your numerous comments, you are very upset about today's action.
"It was not our intention to disappoint you with the new app. Rather, we wanted to provide you with this action and thus show how important each fan is for Bayern Munich."
Most of Europe's top clubs have a Twitter account and a Facebook page, and are slowly grappling with how best to utilize them to interact with fans and grow their brand.
But though Bayern's brainwave is novel and they can certainly claim to have got their message out to the masses -- it appears like they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Madeley added: "We all say you've got to be part of the conversation; with fans it is so important to have an equal understanding of their views so you're part of that conversation."
So what is the expert's view on the best way for Bayern to extricate themselves from this public relations mess? "Go and sign a very good striker tomorrow!"