WeetBix and The All Blacks: Shame on You

Sanitarium have responded. The best bit: no more registration. Also, the website didn’t cost $1.3m, the entire card game and campaign did.
Warning: this post contains harsh language and images of appalling user interfaces. You have been warned.
Also, remember kids, this is my personal opinion. Having said that, if something of this quality crossed my desk at work, it would get thrown back at the development team marked in red ink. Must try harder. See me.
Weetbix have updated the site to provide a nice helpful message that you need to log on. Unfortunately, you can also edit the URL to show any message you want.
12:11pm: Ooops no, looks like Sanitarium is following along with the story. They’ve closed the message loophole now.

You’re a 10 year old child. You find a card in your packet of WeetBix with your favourite All Black on it, along with the promise of an amazing 3-D online interactive experience. “Just hold it in front of your webcam”, it says.

So you rush to your computer and type in the website address as instructed.

login What? A login? Oh all right fine then. I’ll play this game. I ignore the bizarre word wrapping and hit the Register link.

registerOK, so in order to show me a 3D image of a rugby player, you need – no demand, my name, my email address and my date of birth? Why exactly? At this point, if I were a 10 year old child, I’d probably be outside playing with something else. But no, I persevere. I want to see this miracle of technology, so I’ll hand over my information. I’m thinking it will be a lovely Flash based augmented reality display like GE’s Ecomagination display (note the lack of registration requirement).

Powerplay pluginWhat the heck? “You have to manually launch it”? What does that mean? I don’t know what this is, maybe I’ll ask my big brother how to fix it. Mum and Dad told me never to install anything off the internet in case the computer catches a virus and gets broken. Ah well, I’m so excited about my rugby card, I’ll try downloading it anyway.

powerplay 2“Appendix 1”? But this has nothing to do with my appendix!? What do they want with my appendix, and what happens if I choose to accept the terms in the License Agreement? Oh well, let’s do that anyway and push on.  I really want to see Dan Carter in 3D!

close firefoxClose Firefox? But I’m using Firefox so I can see Dan Carter in 3D? What’s going on here?


OK now I’m scared. Maybe I have broken the computer? Is this what a virus looks like? Dad will be so angry with me. “You must accept this agreement”. OK then.

Look at that Firefox re-opened but back at my home page. I wonder if the install worked? Where is the WeetBix site? I guess I have to go back there again? And login again?

powerplay initializationDownloading Scenario? I JUST WANT TO SEE DAN CARTER. I DON’T WANT SOME BLOODY SCENARIO.

initialization “Camera Selected”? OK then, why are you sitting there doing nothing if the camera is selected? Nothing’s happening. Oh I see, you want me to click the button that says “Camera Selected” to select my camera? Right. That’s understandable… or not.

not respondingFuck you Sanitarium. Screw WeetBix and screw the All Blacks. All 15 of them.

Fire your marketing company and whoever created this abomination. You’ve been duped out of 1.3 million dollars by a bunch of scammers. Take a look around at some of the lovely, simple, Flash-based augmented reality viewers on the market. Everyone has Flash and it Just Works. You don’t need a bloated, ugly, crashy piece of third-party trash to do the job, and you don’t need my email address and date of birth either. Let me view the animations without logging on, then I might get excited and join up so I can show other people how many cool cards I have.


A bitterly disappointed 10 year old.

Join the Conversation


  1. I never trusted a company that can’t spell their own product’s name. It’s WEETABIX.

  2. Dammit Ben, why do you need my email address so I can post? And why did I have to email you my credit card details?

    Anyway, you’re completely right that is a monumentally shitty implementation. In the US they’d be in all sorts of shit as well because of the Child Protection laws that don’t allow kids under 13 to sign up for stuff online.

    I know nothing about 3D programming in Flash, but I bet for $1.3m I could have arranged something better than that with the help of some cheap Indian labour.

    I buy Home Brand wheat biscuits. No cards in there.

  3. I like the idea of collector cards in packets leading to more fun online (and that sort of thing has been done in many ways before) but this particular execution just seems so flawed. At its heart, it seems like a tool for gathering customer information (of children!), rather than a fun 3D thing to play with.

    Interestingly, the NBR article notes that Sanitarium are doing all their marketing for this through social media websites. Oh dear.

  4. I absolutely agree; for shame. Not only for the nasty proprietary installations and ridiculous registration form, but also for this wee nugget buried in the site:

    “Please note, the 2D & 3D effect is currently set up to work for PC users on Internet Explorer. Mac users in Safari may experience some technical difficulties, which we are working to rectify.”

    Epic. Fail.

  5. I got the Weetbix kit today too, but haven’t braved the waters yet (although I’m looking forward to having Weetbix for the first time in about 20 years tomorrow)…. did you actually get to see the animation?

  6. This campaign so soon after the debacle of Super 14 cards in chippie packets does make you question who’s supporting these promotions at the NZRU.

  7. Far out – will some ex-purts never learn…?

    Great post – the web / marketing industry needs more voices like yours..

    Cheers and thanks

  8. Hi Ben,

    I’m the head of PR for Sanitarium NZ and I’m wondering – how many boxes of our delicious weetbix product will it take for you to “remove” this blog post? We’ll allow you to select any combination of our products, up to the value of say… an iphone.

  9. Yes how silly weet-bix, my daughter used to play with virtual little pet shop, just got a little tag, uploaded the code and hey presto welcome to the world of pet shop. to easy. I hate things that are unnecessarily complex.

  10. Being in one of those households which buys weetbix just for the cards (it normally gets feed to the pets when we run out of petfood), I’m not sure I like this. You also forgot the question to the parents “Can I have a webcam?”. Yeah right, you kids need a webcam….of course you do….

  11. What is really worrying is that some business paid a lot of money for this crap. Maybe they should have invited a couple of kids with clean laptops and asked them to try and use it.

    Who is getting all this development money? Lucky for them!



  12. Ben – EPIC WIN on the total honesty and great experience capture. Say it again: Less time on PR, more time on getting the experience right, from the start.

    And Weetbix, specifically: for shame! A time-honoured brand messing with newness should know to be 100x more careful than any other bunch. And even though I Have Told People So, being proved right doesn’t make the feeling of schadenfreude at all pleasant.

    The NBR article (http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/sanitarium-says-good-bye-tv-hello-twitter-with-3d-all-blacks-campaign-104877) is electrifying and very illuminating. Overseas player, poor implementation, in-house management, random application of social networking and an arrogant-sounding client claiming this foul mix is “a wake-up call for agencies” — that’s pretty damned unfair to Sanitarium’s agency which has worked extraordinarily hard to lead this client into exciting new territory for years. Face2Face was awesome. This is a real trainwreck.

    PS: @David G King NEVER FEED WEETBIX TO CATS. They will return the favour with interest on your newly drycleaned duvet.

  13. This is one of those feel good burn pieces, where truisms abound. We can all happily stand around and point and laugh at Sanitarium. If only fail blog had image sequences…

  14. Time and time again we see large corporates try and “get down with the kids” (usually the metaphorical kids, in this case actual ones) and spend huge amounts of money only to fail miserably.

    You can’t do this sort of stuff in a planned/contrived/measured way – the social web just doesn’t work that way. But a few keen young things lunch and get some ideas off them – or better still write them a (relatively small) cheque and let them do some things that wouldn’t normally get past the 15 levels of corporate PR channels

    But it’ll never happen I guess…..

  15. But remember when you could learn real (not always necessarily useful) stuff about the world from Weet-Bix cards…? National Costumes of the World, NZ National Parks, Vintage Cars, Great New Zealanders – gosh, some of us even learnt about the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand off Weet-Bix cards. Well, some of us remember. After living in UK for two years towards end of last millenium, I found a startling contrast between what was being offered in the way of Weetabix/Weet-Bix cards in the two places. Here it was rugby, of course, thanks to the power of sponsorship and the (not necessarily accurate) assumption that we here all love the game. Over there it was history of the last two millenia, or something along those lines… at least something quite a lot brainier. The other assumption of course, with this latest Sanitarium offering, is that every serious NZ Weet-Bix eater has the webcam. I’m just glad I still like Weet-Bix.

  16. Yet another example of how much marketing and communications companies don’t get “digital” or customer/user experience. Great post and shame on Sanatorium for not having the common sense to do design properly.

  17. Guess what? The D’Fusion install still doesn’t work and I’m not prepared to wait more than the 30 mins I’ve already waited for the installation / initialization to complete. Now I have a wailing 5 year old. Thanks Weetbix!

  18. This is mind blowing, thankyou for posting this! I love weetbix but give me the informative intelligent cards over rugby stars anyday. It’s a shame the money wasn’t spent with an outfit that didn’t have lead for brains

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