‘Overwhelmed’ Bonds takes down Birthday Project site to catch up on moderation

Bonds We're OverhwelmedPacific Brands has temporarily disabled its We Are Bonds website after being overhelmed by the response to The Birthday Project.

The site launched on Tuesday with a huge PR push inviting the public to claim their date of birth in a project designed to remind consumers of Bond’s long term relationship with all types of Australians.

The project generated heavy media coverage including TV, newspapers and online. For the first 24 hours or so the website struggled to cope, and even after server capacity was increased, the human team of ten or so moderators struggled to stay on top of the uploaded images.

In an announcement on the site today, Bonds told consumers:


“Our search has gone wild to find one Aussie born on each day since Bonds began.

“Since The Birthday Project went live on Tuesday morning, we’ve had more than 50,000 Aussies upload their photos. That’s more than one photo every 3.8 seconds and our moderators are working tirelessly to get through them all.

“We’ve boosted our team to clear the backlog so your entry can get through faster and you can become one of the many faces of Bonds.

“There will still be some dates available with free tees when we go live again in the next day or so, but most likely in the earlier dates, so give your granny or pop or mum or dad a call to let them know!”

A spokesman for Bonds told Mumbrella that the brand was reviewing the next stage of its advertising campaign as the initial call to action was no longer needed. The next phase of the campaign will see the brand start making use of the images and comments uploaded. This may now kick in earlier. The spokesman told Mumbrella: “They exceeded our expectations in both quantity and quality.”

The campaign idea came from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne which was also responsible for the digital execution. The PR campaign was run by Baker brand with Mediacom Melbourne handling media.


  1. Jon-Paul Broom
    2 Mar 12
    11:30 am

  2. I think I know I how they are getting through moderation? Looks like they are rejecting random entries. My seemingly innocent entry was rejected for what seems no apparent reason. The reasons given where…

    A) Not to the required specifications (which means your pic was probably too large)
    – – The image was picked from my facebook profile. If they didn’t build the system to allow facebook image sizes that is pretty poor functionality.

    Not meeting the copyright requirements (please understand we can’t show other brands/logos on our site)

    — No brands are in the photo except a beer bottle with no label visible.

    Deemed offensive in content (oops!)

    — I am not that pretty but would hardly deem my wedding photo offensive

    In other words not the friendliest response from Bonds.

  3. mumbrella
    2 Mar 12
    11:33 am

  4. Hi Jon-Paul,

    A colleague here had the same message and reacted in the same way as you. I think it’s meant to convey that it was rejected for one of those reasons, not all of them, but is open to misunderstanding.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  5. sam
    2 Mar 12
    11:34 am

  6. I got the same email!

  7. Michael
    2 Mar 12
    11:42 am

  8. I went and signed up straight away and my date was clear, my image was approved and I thought it was smooth sailing from here.

    Then I get an email this morning saying that I was not the first on that date and I no longer the the free t-shirt. I thought the system blocked off dates if someone had already signed up to it? And I find it hard to believe that I was not the first person to sign up as I literary did it a few hours after it launch.

  9. Jon-Paul Broom
    2 Mar 12
    12:04 pm

  10. Hey Tim,

    I understand that it would have been rejected for only one. However I can’t seem to determine which one caused the issue. I replied tot he email and received a quick response that asked me to refer to the terms and conditions.


  11. Prue
    2 Mar 12
    12:04 pm

  12. I really liked Bonds when I heard about it, and when I engaged. I was genuinely excited about the campaign (from a marketing perspective) and getting something for free (from a consumer perspective).

    Now that I’ve been rejected and subsequently offered a mildly-insulting-paltry-and-worse-than-nothing token 10% off in their online store, my overall sentiment is far lower than it was before I engaged with the campaign.

    A consumer psychology rollercoaster it has been and I’d prefer to put the whole ordeal behind me. As a marketer, I still love the campaign idea and execution, but as a punter I’m pretty disappointed.

  13. Crienna
    2 Mar 12
    12:14 pm

  14. Hi Jon-Paul,

    I submitted twice. The first one was approved and the 2nd one was declined. I received the exact same rejection response so I am guessing it is stock standard.


  15. VB
    2 Mar 12
    12:52 pm

  16. Hey JP
    I got “…pipped at the post….”.
    Dont sell you looks short, I love your wedding pic :-)

  17. scott
    2 Mar 12
    12:55 pm

  18. This is an email I just sent to bonds in disgust.

    Im sure others have already expressed their confusion and frustration, however I have to say.

    Your company opting for a manual process over an automatic system process was the most retarded decision they could have made. You basically turned a potentially awesome promotional campaign into a cluster f#%$ of a screw up and from a user point of view.. completely deceptive.

    Like many people, Myself and my girlfriend saw that our dates were not yet taken.

    So we scrambled to lock in ours so we got our t-shirts.
    So first impression would be that once the submission was approved we would get details via email on how to obtain them.

    Mine was rejected as apparently it did not meet the terms.
    I realized this could be one of the questions, so I went back to re submit expecting it to be still available.

    Only to find the “you overwhelmed us”
    Which shut me out to update my resubmission. or to re submit.

    My girlfriend got an email saying even though hers was submitted via the site successfully, was not the first one processed so would only receive a 10% discount at the online store??
    If it wasn’t displayed on the site how the hell is that possible???

    From a user point of view, once the submission shows on the site and passes moderation approval it should be a t shirt winner automaticly.

    What the hell did you expect was going to happen by making this a manual process?

    If you had set up submissions so it didn’t need moderation and setup a process where once the submission is made to an empty date then its taken and locked in automatically by the database and validation setup. If a user sees its been taken they can not make a submission.

    This is exactly how it appears initially from a user point of view.
    You have inadvertently angered thousands all because of false expectations in the way you have set this promotion up from a user process. Maby its time to hire a UX team??

    Maby this is a matter for the ACCC

  19. Stephen
    2 Mar 12
    1:22 pm

  20. Giving away free stuff just turns people into greedy nightmares – our collective sense of entitlement blows me away every time – don’t feed the prize pigs.

    However this execution does appear to be particularly flawed despite the obvious bottleneck in the system that should have been spotted way out.

  21. meh
    2 Mar 12
    2:27 pm

  22. I too received the same rejection email to an image which could not have possibly broken the guidelines. I don’t really give a damn about the shirt but feel like my time and interest was wasted. Well done Bonds, you took a true fan such as myself and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I hope they rejected my user data too, nope I bet not.

  23. Wren
    2 Mar 12
    2:38 pm

  24. I had a bad experience too:

    Submitted, approved, offered free tshirt, went to claim, site didn’t work, told customer service, they told me to site was congested and to keep trying for the next 24 hours but before that deadline was even up I received a rejection email (for the same pic that had been approved), same stock standard that everyone else got.

    So… tried again (by now some duckface had got my date) and it’s ‘pending’.

    I don’t mind not getting the free tee, but I’m really annoyed that it was approved, and then rejected.

    Mentioned it on Facebook and a few other friends had same experience. Funnily enough, I was wearing a Bonds top while complaining about them…

  25. Wren
    2 Mar 12
    2:47 pm

  26. Further to the above, I just tried to claim the tee again (using link on approved email) and it appears to have worked… Not sure where that leaves the rejection or the second attempt…

    Thoroughly confused.

  27. V Loo
    2 Mar 12
    2:53 pm

  28. Totally agree Stephen – if they had charged a nominal fee for the t- shirt – say $5 or $10 – could they have avoided this entire fiasco and received quality entries – and true Bonds fans pre-arranged??

  29. Ariana
    2 Mar 12
    2:54 pm

  30. Perhaps instead of moderators, they could’ve indicated when submitting a photo of yourself that the size/dimensions were wrong. A “woops, your photo is too big” before you even hit submit would have solved the majority of the problems – and saved me from the pain of reading the rejection email.

    Unless people were sending pictures of themselves in their Bonds jocks?

  31. V Loo
    2 Mar 12
    2:54 pm

  32. …instead (not pre-arranged)???

  33. chen
    2 Mar 12
    3:00 pm

  34. i didn’t bother- i share a birthday with Sarah Murdoch…

  35. Matt
    2 Mar 12
    3:02 pm

  36. Hey Tim,

    I’m a fan, but still think this is the campaign of the year?
    This is what happens when a creative agency pitches for the entire gig on a nice campaign idea, and then says they will ‘throw in’ the digital, then outsource most of the components, and are surprised when it all screws up.

    So predictable…


  37. Kate
    2 Mar 12
    3:04 pm

  38. Not being compatible with ios should have warned me the experience was going to go pear shaped.

  39. Cornelia
    2 Mar 12
    3:25 pm

  40. Jon-Paul Broom – the same thing happened to me!

  41. John
    3 Mar 12
    8:41 pm

  42. it really is all about first world problems here isn’t it Mumbrella – you are becoming famous for your cynical comments section. The combination of whingers, trolls, narcissistic snobs and outright bastards is getting boring.
    Boo Hoo – I didn’t get a free tshirt and my photo was rejected… bad consumer experience. Blah Blah Blah… oops now I sound cynical!

  43. Michele
    3 Mar 12
    10:10 pm

  44. Remember the disaster that was the Bonds Baby competition last year? This company want to be cool but fail in execution so often.

  45. BB
    7 Mar 12
    2:50 pm

  46. I was one of the first to sign up (it showed only 385 had signed up when I visited). After eventually finding my birthday (or was there an easier way than scrolling through them all), I’ve not even received an email from them. VERY disappointed. I took the time to engage with them. Where’s my ‘engagement’ in return?