How to handle a marketing fail: Mobile bug wakes up Australians an hour early

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Smartphone users in Australia were given a rude awakening on 13th January 2015, when a technical glitch meant the customers of mobile network Optus were woken up an hour earlier by their alarm apps. This case study looks at how the brand reacted to the social media backlash with offers of free coffee and food.

Case study summary

• Australian mobile network bug means customers smartphones set time an hour early- resulting in rude awakenings as alarm apps go off prematurely.

• Disgruntled customers take to social media to complain- even sparking hashtag #optuswrongtime

• Optus and subsidiary network Virgin apologise with swift social media response and offers of free coffee

The challenge

The bug was caused by computer systems accidentally adjusting the devices' clocks to daylight saving time in Queensland, which had opted out of the annual switchover to DST back in 1972, putting it an hour behind New South Wales for part of the year.

The glitch affected Optus customer as well as carriers that use the Optus network like Virgin mobile.

Some customers even set off for work without realising there had been a mix-up, causing earlier-than-normal traffic on the roads.

The issue was resolved by 7.30am but many annoyed customers took to Twitter to complain using the hashtag Optus #optuswrongtime.


The solution

In response, Optus posted a message on Facebook, offering a free cup of coffee to subscribers who showed their smartphones to barristas at a city centre Brisbane cafe.

Virgin, by contrast, offered to deliver a meal to vulnerable people living in Australia if users uploaded pictures of their own earlier-than-normal morning lattes.


The free coffee placated most customers and prevented further bad publicity, but all of this could have been avoided if they'd listen to one eagled-eyed tweeter that warned them just after the time reset:

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