The Mad Men Twitter Fiasco – An Opportunity Squandered.

If you’re in advertising, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably heard someone mention the AMC drama Mad Men by now. The acting is solid, the story line is intricate, and the general art direction is excellent and time period accurate.

Recently the show started using Twitter in a really innovative manner to extend the storyline into the social media space by extending the story line in the twitter community. The buzz around it was great and I believe everyone was impressed with creative thinking of the campaign. Unfortunately, there was no strategic thinking and this wasn’t a move from AMV.

To quote Adrants:

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.

The smart move for AMC would have been to reach out to this obviously enthusiastic group of friends and said “Hey, thanks for your enthusiasm. You guys came up with a really great idea. We can’t let you do this because you might interfere with the storyline, but we’d like to take over your accounts and use our own writers to make sure this accurate. We’d like to thank you by sending you some autographed photos, merchandise, and even invite you to come down to the set one day” AND wait for it…. “THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING AND WATCHING”.

I preach this every day and I continue to be boggled by the fact that brands and businesses don’t realize in today’s social web are building brands and brand stories WITH consumers. There’s no choice, you can’t control it, you must embrace it, and win their hearts and their minds.