Wix appears to have selected several “high level” WordPress users and community members via Twitter DM some time ago asking for their email addresses. Recently, the people who shared mailing addresses received headphones. Reactions to these gifts ran from thanks to surprise and amusement. Some of these people assumed Wix was trying to convince them to switch or just give them exposure. 🎁
Sarah Gooding has a good summary if you want to learn more.
The whole episode might have come to a head when Matt Mullenweg responded to the campaign in a blog post calling Wix “a roach motel” up to “dirty tricks.” He mentioned how Wix currently has no export feature:
“So if we’re comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn’t let you leave. I’m surprised consumer protection agencies haven’t gone after them.”
I found the whole episode rather interesting from social and marketing angles.
I agree with Tammie Lister who noted this negative campaign is being talked about a lot “because it's also one of the first times an outside company has … selected who they see as ‘influencers'” inside the WordPress community. Very often I see some members of the WordPress community get “exclusive” swag like caps and hoodies from WordPress companies. Very often it's the same people who publicly thank the gift-givers on Twitter.
I don't believe that all marketing is good or harmless. Headphones and ads aren't cheap, and I don't think this was a clear success for Wix in the long run. But we can check back in a year and see if this made any real impact.