Wix Takes a Jab at WordPress with Bewildering New Marketing Campaign

Wix is taking direct aim at WordPress in a new cryptic marketing campaign that began over the weekend with shipments of Bose noise-canceling headphones landing in the mailboxes of prominent WordPress users. At the end of December, 2020, Wix sent out the following Twitter DM to a group of people it deemed “influencers from the tech industry,” soliciting their addresses in order to deliver a box:

In the last few months, my team and I have been working on a new innovative concept. We have packed this concept into a free, no strings attached box that we’d love to share with you as one of our selected influencers from the Tech industry.

I know the information I have provided you is basic, but the reason is that I do not want to ruin your experience (and let’s be honest, what’s more fun than being surprised on the holidays?)

Recipients were instructed to scan a QR code to view a one-minute video where a man acts as a personified “WordPress” making bizarre claims:

“Apparently, Wix is coming out with a campaign trashing me. I just want you to know that it’s totally fake news, completely bogus. They’re just spreading lies because they’re jealous of our relationship.”

www.secret-update.com/from-wp

The message of the video is not clear and it ends with a few snide jabs referencing “exhausted memory” and WordPress’ market share.

The most common reaction to the surprise headphones was confusion. Many recipients had no idea what Wix was trying to communicate with the gift.

A few people perceived the video to be cheeky and humorous. WordPress contributor Aaron Campbell found it off-putting.

“The video takes some odd snipes at WordPress, but the whole overall feel is a bit shady/dirty. Not a great look for Wix in my opinion,” Campbell said after receiving the headphones in the mail. “I think I’d be fine with it if it weren’t signed as ‘From WP’ and ‘Yours, WP.’ By the time I got to watching the video I already had that bad taste in my mouth.”

Some speculated that it may be the first act in a strange marketing saga of Wix targeting WordPress. Others were inadvertently convinced the headphones were actually from WordPress, since the advertisement uses WordPress’ trademark in the video. This may be a violation of the WordPress Foundation’s trademark policy, but this has not yet been confirmed. Wix was not printed anywhere in the message, except on the shipping label.

This isn’t the first time WordPress and Wix have been at odds. In 2016, Matt Mullenweg called out Wix for copying GPL code from the WordPress mobile app and distributing it in its proprietary app. This rendered the entire app in violation of the GPL. Instead of complying with the GPL, Wix responded by removing the GPL-licensed code and forking the original MIT-licensed library that the WordPress mobile app code was built upon. The fork was relicensed under an absurd modification of the MIT that prohibits the code’s redistribution under any copyleft license.

In October 2020, Wix passed Drupal as 4th most popular CMS, according to W3Techs. Since that time, Squarespace has grown to overtake Wix, pushing the CMS back into 5th place with 2.4% of the market. It’s only natural that Wix would want to target WordPress, the market leader at 40.9%. However, the strategy of misrepresenting WordPress, while sending headphones to influential users and contributors, was perplexing and unsavory. Wix has not yet responded to my request for comment on its new marketing campaign.

32 responses to “Wix Takes a Jab at WordPress with Bewildering New Marketing Campaign”

  1. Just seems kind of sad and pathetic to me, and as was said, a huge waste of money. If those people who got the headphones really are big WP influencers, did WIX expect them to be in any way swayed by a bad video and some headphones? Sorry, things just don’t work that way – which could point to an overall flaw in the WIX way of thinking. A fundamental misunderstanding of the market.

    • Re ‘If those people […] are big WP influencers’ – their message doesn’t say WP influencers, but tech influencers.

  2. Make yourself obnoxious to people who like WordPress? That really is a bewildering marketing strategy.

  3. WIX is a joke. Instead of upgrading its core features events and booking services. It’s stopped improving these features for many years. The new WIX mobile app is a handicapped app. to say the least. Its support is another joke who doesn’t solve any technical problem for me. There’s no proper trouble ticket system at all. And you can’t follow up with the reply they sent you.
    I also read that their SEO doesn’t really help wix sites to achieve higher ranking in Google search. Full width website is tedious to create. I’m back using WordPress to build my site. WIX STORE is way too basic it can’t compete with woocommerce period. They ignore my honest feedback on issues with their apps. It’s only suitable for people with simple one shop operation. Also there’s hardly any good third party apps on WIX MARKET PLACE.

  4. Wix needs to spend more time focusing on core features for business and less time on craptacular advertising. It’s a great toy if you want to establish a wedding site but it doesn’t grow with you when your business grows.

    • I literally skipped the article and scrolled straight down to the comments after seeing the heading of this article.

      Just want to say… Lol! To Wix for even trying. The one thing that WordPress will always have over Wix is ‘community’. I’m a website designer and I’ve relied on the WordPress Community for so many years. I don’t think Wix will ever come close.

      WordPress is the Linux of websites, there’s such a vast and capable support system out there that you can literally achieve anything that you or your client needs… without breaking the bank.

      Wix has a long way to go, but it will be nice to see it develop into something really competitive in the near future. I mean although most WordPress plugins are relatively cheap, it does add up in some situations, so some sort of competition will be welcome to bring down pricing i.e. for plugins etc.

      …. sorry for the rant, on my third glass of wine. But seriously, WordPress still has the upper hand… That is constantly evolving… Because of its community.

  5. I got one, unsolicited.

    They did email me first to ask if I was okay to get it and I said sure, not knowing what it is.

    BTW, those headphones are $379 on Amazon!!!

  6. Another day and another trashing ad by Wix against WordPress. I wonder why they insist on such cheap marketing methods when they have already a huge user base and the highest chance to compete with WP given the market share stats.

  7. The joke in all this is, bad publicity is still publicity. Everyone is talking about the way Wix is bad mouthing WordPress. So based on that alone…

    • I remember an online glasses store that leveraged it’s atrocious reputation to its advantage. They were purposely horrible in shocking ways. Horror stories about their support line swearing at customers would make the news and so they’d get all these backlinks and rank high on Google for searches for glasses.

      I had to wonder if Wix is trying something similar. Deploy a “newsworthy” ad campaign to get exposure at whatever cost. Or maybe they are serious. Truly bewildering in any case. Probably best not to give it attention.

  8. Despite that campaign video being atrocious, if any of these WP stars are so offended at receiving those Bose headphones for free, they can send them to me.

    • Free is as much as I’d pay for Bose noise canceling headphones considering how fast mine fell apart from daily use.

  9. After the week and a half I’ve had and the dogpiling I’ve endured on Twitter the last four months, it was a nice surprise.

    Using physical mail for swag/gifts during time when we’re all stuck at home and some businesses are selling their swag, is another approach.

    It’s hard to judge a marketing campaign if you don’t know the context of their goals. Is it shady? Maybe. It’s not offensive to me. Is it a violation of Trademark? That’s for a lawyer to answer.

    The guy in a blazer doesn’t look like any WordPress person that I know. Not stuffy, not forgetful. Sure, are updates more complicated now? Yes. Should businesses hire professionals? Yes.

    Probably, for many of our clients that don’t have the budget to hire a professional, Wix is a real solution.

    We all need a place to market ourselves online. I chose WordPress. Some choose WordPress.com. Some choose Squarespace, Webflow, Stackbit, and, yes, Wix.

    It’s important that we rise above this. Yes. I got the headphones. Will I use them? I live alone so probably not. Did I feel appreciated? Yes.

    What can we, as WordPress products and services learn from this?

    Wix is advertising.

    We are not.

  10. I guess I know where I rate. I didn’t get a pair of head phones.

  11. People shouldn’t underestimate Wix or anyone else in this space.

    Over the past few months, I’ve seen many of my WooCommerce clients ditch their WP sites and switch to Shopify. This is after only building their sites in 2020.

    Woo has become cumbersome and the addons required to run a reasonable online store has bloated the performance requirements and yearly costs to the point where Shopify has become an agile bargain by comparison.

    The fact that many of Woo’s plugins switched their licensing a few years ago to require full-price yearly renewals was certainly a set backwards. Hopefully, the gang at Automattic with take notice and address these issues (and others) or risk conceding this market to the competition.

    Since we’re also a Shopify affiliate, whether they choose WP/Woo or Shopify makes little difference to me.

    • A lot of die-hard WordPress users actually do recommend other CMS’s. It depends on the user and their needs. I always recommend Shopify over WooCommerce and often recommend Squarespace to friends who need a simple all-in-one website at a reasonable cost. These are good companies worthy of consideration. Wix is not.

  12. Apparently there was some delay in my package, but I just got an email from FedEx saying that my package from Wix was delivered. I look forward to seeing what’s in my mailroom when I go home tonight. 😁

      • I charged them up and gave them a try today. They are very nice, the noise cancelling is exceptionally good, the touch controls are a bit finicky but workable once you get used to them, the need to use a phone app to set them up was odd, but they basically work quite well. I expect the voice pickup functionality to be very good given the obvious microphones embedded everywhere. Probably very good for video calls and such.

        That said, they do seem a bit rattle prone. The turning of the cups is a bit lose and uneven and they don’t stick to the head well in certain positions. They’d probably be better if they locked in place a bit better, or were more sticky in their movement.

        Good sound, excellent features, but not the best in terms of ergonomics and movement. Solid 7.5 out 10. Maybe an 8 over time. Or maybe less over time if they don’t hold up.

        If Wix was looking for Bose reviews, there you go. 🙂

  13. Here’s why this fails from a marketing standpoint, Yes, it’s true to a degree that “just get my name in the papers” , but there is also the Streisand effect. It’s a double-edged sword.

    I’m going to bring out my former marketing head of a major non-profit card here.

    Let’s look at it in a more nuanced fashion. Who was targeted for this campaign? By a rough look around I’m seeing a lot of people who are identified as “WordPress Influencers” but are they and/or a significant number of the folks they routinely encounter Wix’s target market? I’d argue, no. based on seeing a significant number of enterprise agency owners, heads of highly successful plugin shops, folks who are deep in the security realm…I could go on…these are not the droids you are looking for. They should have aimed at solopreneurs who help the DIY folks who have a little more cash. Hell, they should have REWARDED their current high end users and asked them to be their spokes people. Your next customer YOUR CURRENT ONES!

    Let’s look other parts of this campaign. Anyone else finding it problematic that that there is one women in this campaign? Anyone else see the only POC are in two ads: in ad 1) they have been reduced to a blip where they slap each other silly in a plugin fight; in ad 2) we meet the Spanish speaking stereotype from hell. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was left wondering who in the bloody hell greenlit this did they miss the entire BLM and MeToo movements, does is elude them that the Latinx community is the fastest growing demographic in the US? And this is before I get to Asian representation of any kind, I mean it’s not like that’s been in the news steadily for THE LAST THREE WEEKS or annoying. We’re they absent the day buying power, rising entrepreneurs, and demographics were taught…looks like it.

    Next up for kicks and giggles, this is a brand that tweets once since April 1st and then 6 times in an hour today. You’ll find a similar dearth of content on their other social media outlets. Check out the comments on those posts and the vast majority are not good. That’s not a marketing strategy for a major brand, that’s throw some shade at the number one market share and let’s see what happens. I don’t think these folks would know a SWOT campaign if it ran up and bit them on the backside.

    In short this is a travesty of their own making with dubious ROI at best.

  14. Wix’s negative ad campaign targeting wp is a rather backhanded compliment. Just makes wp diehards dig in a little deeper and appreciate the beauty that is open source CMS even more.

  15. Wix is a joke ! As said before they’re many alternatives for people who doesn’t want to go the WordPress way without being locked for life with Wix CMS. Squarespace, Shopify …

  16. Sad when you have to use shady tactics like this to be ‘liked’. They missed the point of WordPress completely: the free, collaborative, helping each other out spirit.

    Glad I have never, ever wasted any time with this.

  17. Cheap marketing campaigns never be accepted. WordPress is helping people and growing its ecosystem very fast. Good products never need a campaign.

    By shiju
    A WordPress Lover

  18. Excellent Wix!

    Wait until you see the next part of the campaign, before you jump to conclusions. 🤗

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