I was tipped off the other day to a scandalous instance of brand karaoke. As those readers involved with the marketing or events worlds, or anyone who simply likes going to gigs, may know, O2 are pioneers in the priority ticketing space. O2 Priority is a fantastically successful scheme (brainchild of the fantastic head of music sponsorship Jasmine Skee) which, when combined with highly impactful online material like Academy TV, is a recipe for inspirational ticket sales.
The other day, BT decided, bizarrely, to attempt to take ownership of this much-beloved brand, with promoted tweets advertising advance tickets to LondonLive for their customers using the hashtag #prioritytickets.
You can almost here the vast and ill oiled corporate thinking clunking into place. Twitter is just a great big maelstrom of noise, right? Everyone knows that. Therefore, if an organisation simply tunes in to a proven popular phrase, the people will follow like sheep. Sheeple.
Except that really isn’t how it works. Twitter is indeed a constantly thrumming mess, so much white noise. However, consumers and particularly tweeters, can’t simply be made to tune into your brand by an attractive term. Their dials are pre-set by prior marketing. As a consequence, when a much loved and famous brand like O2 priority is misappropriated, the reaction is likely to be underwhelming at best, and distinctly peeved at worst.
What resulted was a perfect storm of publicity for O2. As customers began to raise their confusion, BT’s promoted trending topic only became stronger. O2 cottoned on fast, and were soon piggybacking on someone else’s payment, promoting their own latest priority deals.
There are many triumphs here for a twitter devotee like myself, not least the emergence of organic conversation above lazy corporate promotion. However, most crucially this shows the value of a strong brand. Even in an age of information overload, great ideas sold well have an endurance which corporate opportunists can’t understand.