AMC Asks Twitter to Remove 'Mad Men' Accounts
AMC didn't take too kindly to the onslaught of Mad Men characters appearing on Twitter and sent a Digital Millenium Copyright Act take down notice asking Twitter to remove @Don_Draper and @PeggyOlsen. The accounts are currently suspended. There are other accounts on Twitter for the Mad Men characters Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, Joan Holloway, Paul Kinsey, Sal Romano, Bertram Cooper and Bobbie Barrett. Many are still active though @joan_halloway has recently been suspended as well.
AMC was not behind the appearance of the characters on Twitter but its legal maneuverings may go down as the single worst use (misuse?) of social media. One of the characters, @paul_kinsey, was created by Mario Parise. When he created the account, he immediately contacted AMC to tell them what he was doing and if they had any problem, he'd immediately cancel the account. AMC never contacted him; it chose instead to take the legal route.
All of the characters were welcomed with open arms by Twitter users and they actively engaged each other. No one cared whether or not AMC was behind them. It was irrelevant. Everyone was having fun with people from one of their favorite shows.
Not to be slapped down easily, the person behind the Peggy Olsen character re-created an account using the name @pegy_olsen whop tweeted, "I worked hard. I did my job. But the boys at Twitter are just as churlish as the boys at Sterling Cooper. Such a pity that they're so petty." In truth, it isn't Twitter that's being churlish. Twitter just did what it was legally asked to do.
It's a sticky situation for sure but one of the best ways for a brand to gain footing in social media spaces is to identify already-existing relevant activity or content that can be put to use. Stride Gum did it brilliantly with worldly dancer . They identified his already popular videos and offered to fund and sponsor future videos. The outcome was amazingly successful.
While a company certainly has to clearly state their relationship, if any, with entities purporting to represent the brand in any media, slapping down fervent supporters as opposed to forming a partnership does more harm than good. For AMC, Twitter is (was?) one of the best places in which they could have chosen to participate. Among Twitter users, there is a very high concentration of people who could be dubbed "social media experts" as well as many people who work in marketing and advertising..and who watch Mad Men.
The reaction to the removal of the Twitter users won't be volatile. There won't be any sort of boycott or "We Hate AMC" campaigns but it will leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of Mad Men fans. It may also be categorized as a missed opportunity that could have benefited AMC, rather than make it look like the bad guy.
UPDATE: 8/27/08. AMC called off the legal eagles and has allowed the Twitter profiles to remain.