It looks like wiser heads--or at least those who could be made to recognize a great PR opportunity--have prevailed at AMC.
If you're one of the many hooked fans of the cable channel's hit show, Mad Men, which chronicles the goings-on at a fictional 1960s New York ad agency, and you're also a Twitter user, you might have found yourself eagerly following tweets from folks like Don Draper, Roger Sterling, or Peggy Olson.
And getting people to follow the show's characters probably seemed like a clever way of using Twitter for marketing.
Except that AMC had nothing to do with it. And after discovering that somebody out there in the badlands of the Internet was appropriating its characters without permission, the network filed a DMCA takedown notice with Twitter, forcing the microblogging service to suspend the accounts.
Which, if you think about it, doesn't make a lot of sense. Why would you stop someone from driving interest in your content, especially when they're doing it for free--and not damaging your brand?
Surely there are some copyright issues that AMC's lawyers were worried about, and indeed, I'd be very interested in knowing what those issues are.
But according to Silicon Alley Insider, AMC has decided, after being "gently nudged" by its Web marketing agency, Deep Focus, into changing its mind and letting Twitter reactivate the accounts.
And by "gently nudging," I hope they mean they screamed and yelled and threatened to quit if AMC didn't see the value of letting fans promote the show on their own.
Either way, it's good to see that Draper, Sterling, Olson, and other show characters are once again letting us know about their latest comings and goings.
Of course, this is likely to be a test case of sorts for all kinds of new Web 2.0 fan marketing. Who's to say, for example, that fans won't take it upon themselves to create accounts for each of the cast members on Project Runway or Desperate Housewives?
More likely, it seems to me, is that once the networks notice that fans are getting excited by things like the Mad Men Twittering, they'll take it upon themselves to set up their own shows' characters on Twitter.
But, to me, there's something much more genuine about it when fans are doing it. Though perhaps a bit of mystery about who's behind it is good.
At the same time, however, companies like comic book giant Marvel seem to have much less of a sense of humor about this all. As my colleague Josh Lowensohn noted Tuesday, Marvel forced Twitter to take down a user's account that was being employed to tweet about the storyline of an as-yet-unpublished graphic novel.
Of course, Marvel is the same company that sued video game publisher NCSoft to get it to stop allowing users of the online superhero game City of Heroes to create characters based on Marvel's characters. Marvel was forced to settle the case on unsatisfactory terms, a resolution that may or may not have had something to do with the fact that the visual evidence Marvel presented in the case was created by its own people, not random players.
On the flip side, an early example of a company trying to leverage social media to promote entertainment properties was Friendster's 2004 partnership with DreamWorks, in which characters from the studio's film, Anchorman were added as profiles on Friendster. The seminal social network's users got up in arms about the arrangement because it had been shutting down "fakesters," fake profiles set up by real users and some felt it was unfair that the film's producers were able to go down that path.
That was a long time ago, however, and it's nice to see that AMC was finally able to see the value of letting its fans do what they want.
Now, I just have to go see what Don Draper is up to.
Via Dale Larson.