AMC’s Sad Men
Fans of the AMC show Mad Men are all a buzz on Twitter today over a bit of distress at the fictional Sterling Cooper office. For the past couple weeks, the characters from the show have been sending tweets from various Twitter accounts. They’ve interacted with other Twitter users and sent amusing messages that hinted or played off events on the show. This kind of 2.0 guerilla marketing was a brilliant strategy to engage fans in a kind of alternate reality universe—something which TV shows like “Lost” have tried successfully before. Unfortunately, there is one problem.
AMC didn’t sanction it.
As of last night, two of the accounts (those of users don_draper and peggyolson) were removed and replaced with messages stating that they are being investigated for “strange activity.” A few more accounts were suspended this morning, although “Peggy Olson” has reemerged with an underscore in her new username and a message about “the boys at Twitter” being “just as churlish as the ones at Sterling Cooper” and noting that “It’s daunting to work so hard only to be treated as if you deserve punishment instead of reward.”
The surviving members of the office have continued to send messages, clueing followers in to the drama. User Sal_Romano cleverly tweeted a message that hints at action being taken by Twitter founder Biz Stone. He wrote, “Marty saw a couple of the guys from legal in here this morning talking about the “biz” or a “biz”. Odd.”
While originally speculated to be a SPAM issue, VentureBeat reports that Twitter has confirmed that the takedown was actually due to a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice. Apparently, AMC did not authorize or approve of the accounts being set up in the names of their characters, therefore turning this into a case Internet fan fiction, the legality of which may be hazy, but ultimately in the favor of the copyright owners.
AMC, while certainly in their realm to protect their copyright, should expect some angry backlash from bloggers and Twitter users over what could have potentially been turned into a brilliant marketing campaign. Rather than attacking the creatives behind this idea, they should have worked with and made honest men and women out of them (so to speak). Ironic that the people behind a show about an advertising agency could ultimately be so short-sighted.