A Facebook promotion for Dr Pepper, part of the Coca-Cola drinks range, posted a reference to a notorious pornographic film on the “wall” of an underage girl.
As part of the promotion, users allowed the company to hijack their Facebook status box, posting apparently embarrassing messages under their names.
More than 160,000 people signed up for the hoax statuses, which included: “Lost my special blankie. How will I go sleepies?” and “What’s wrong with peeing in the shower?”
But the marketing drive backfired when a parent complained that her 14-year-old daughter’s hijacked status claimed that she had watched a hardcore pornographic film which is notorious for the obscene practices it depicts.
The status referred to the film by name, and the mother said she was particularly distressed after finding that her daughter had subsequently searched for it on the internet.
Mrs Rickman wrote on the parents’ networking site Mumsnet: “I am absolutely fizzing with rage and disgust, and want a full apology and explanation.”
She said Coca-Cola had “offensively” offered to compensate her with a night in a hotel and West End theatre tickets, adding: “Fat lot of use to me, we live in Glasgow”.
Other Mumsnet users reacted furiously to news of the “disgusting” promotion, and praised Mrs Rickman for bringing it to light.
Coca-Cola has since apologised and announced an investigation into its promotion procedures. Executives said they had approved the offending message without realising its true meaning.
A spokesman said: "It has been brought to our attention that the Dr Pepper promotion on Facebook posted an offensive status update. We apologise for any offence caused.
"As soon as we became aware of this, we took immediate action and removed the status update from the application. We have also taken the decision to end the promotion. We will take all steps necessary to ensure this does not happen again".