Ever since "Janet" fooled us all into thinking she was the official voice of Exxon Mobil the socialsphere has been atwitter with the newest buzzword -- brandjacking. Essentially, brandjacking is the unauthorized use of a company's organization or brand. It happens more often than not but in some cases, is it always bad?
I say no.
Case in point, AMC's "Mad Men". Over the last couple of weeks several of us fans were thrilled to find the characters of the popular show using Twitter to communicate with the shows fans. One of the comments I made in an earlier blog post:
Now, I have no idea if these character Twitter feeds are AMC-sanctioned or not (I DMed Mr. Draper but I did not hear back) but it doesn’t matter. All of them are tweeting completely in character. There is no break. There are no sneak-ins of the true personality of the user(s). I actually feel like I am interacting with the characters on the show and, as silly as this may seem, I almost feel like I am there with them at Sterling Cooper when I am reading their tweets. Never mind the fact, of course, that I don’t think Don Draper would ever be bothered with Twitter even if they had it in the 1960s… If this was sanctioned by AMC it is simply brilliant marketing. If it’s not, I think the channel should promote the feeds anyway.
Well, it turns out these antics were not sanctioned by AMC and the cable channel issued a DCMA takedown notice that forced Twitter to temporarily suspend many of the in-character accounts. This created a lot of backlash among the show's fans and newly converted Twitter followers.
Clearly, AMC thought better of this and it was reported late last night that the characters' Twitter feeds were reinstated. A very smart move by the cable channel. And I was pleased that I would continue to see the smiling face of Paul Kinsey on my Twitter feed.
What fascinates me the most about this little Twitter escapade is how receptive people were to being followed by a brand. Most of us shun companies who blatantly try to promote their brands through unsolicited Twitter adds. The "Mad Men" characters, however, were embraced by its fans. I also firsthand saw these efforts convert TV watchers who previously didn't even know of the series' existence into fans. As evidenced...
This got me to thinking... is brandjacking always negative? While public big business corporations (i.e. Exxon Mobile) need to especially be careful in policing their communications streams, perhaps private companies, some consumer brands and entertainment companies could benefit from having overzealous fans spreading the word and endearing themselves to other users. "Mad Men" certainly did.
What do you think?