This week’s social media backlash is brought to you by Adecco, a large HR company.

It seems they started a new marketing campaign using the web and social media channels called “Around the World in 80 Jobs.” They even go so far as to trademark it, using the silly ™ sign everytime they mention the program1.

So they’ve been marketing this program and contest, Around The World in 80 Jobs™. They have a Facebook page and hashtag. They even made a video with a young man setting out to find jobs around the world.

Just a problem – there’s already an AroundTheWorldin80Jobs.com website, where a young man has been doing the same thing on his own for quite some time. And Adecco swooped in and stole the concept from him, name and all, including using his likeness and personality in their launch video. That’s creepy.

Here’s a video explaining the situation from the blogger, Turner Barr.

In the age of social media and instant communications, it’s much harder to steal from the little guys and get away from it. This guy used his tribe to start the outreach to let Adecco know this wasn’t cool, and it’s been picked up by websites like Reddit and Consumerist.

Then the social media backlash begins.

I’ve become an interested observer of the social media backlash. It’s interesting to watch people descend on a companies Facebook and Twitter pages and just inundate every single post with vitriol relating to the current wrongdoing. Here’s an example of such backlash. Click for a larger, full view.

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What I fail to understand is why companies like Applebee’s and Adecco continue to have live, unmoderated Twitter feeds on their homepages. In Adecco’s case, they’re just posting all the posts that include their hashtag, in this case #waytowork. It’s full of negative, brand-damaging posts. An example:

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To test if this was in fact a live, unedited stream, I posted a tweet using the hashtag and wouldn’t you know it, there I am:

It took about a day for Adecco to respond, offering this pseudo-apology and a “we take this seriously.” They say:

We’re sorry for some recent negative comments. We’d like to make something clear.

The intention of Adecco’s youth initiative was to give perspective to young people so they can better prepare to enter the workforce and achieve their ambitions. Youth unemployment throughout the world is an at all time high. This can not stand.

We understand there is concern with the use of the term “Around The World In 80 Jobs” and we take this seriously. We’ve worked to resolve this and to create a mutually beneficial solution. We will continue to do so. In the meantime, our only goal is to inspire young people to find a way to work. We invite you to join us.

Your Adecco Way to Work Team

By the way, that’s a can not, and not a cannot. I copied that directly from Facebook.

The lesson here – don’t steal. If you do, and you get caught, apologize quickly and earnestly. And take the Twitter live, unedited feed of your homepage. Duh.

1 – I think its silly when you use the trademark (™) or copyright sign (©) in your marketing copy or headline. It’s fine to place it in a footnote at the bottom, but is writing something like “Come to the Boats on the Bay©” really effective marketing copy?