It’s the nightmare that’s bound to keep any digital marketing agency up at night. Imagine, a wave of bad publicity hitting your brand without warning. You’re left wondering how to clean up the mess on social media. Do you stay silent, hoping the tide passes? Perhaps you choose to face the barrage head on.

We’re going to examine how one agency tackled a potential social media crisis and came out a winner.

Throughout the final season of AMC’s Mad Men one major villain was at the center of the action – advertising behemoth McCann Erickson. While most brands would happily revel in the free PR, there was one major problem. McCann had no idea how badly they would be portrayed. Current CEO Harris Diamond told AdAge the agency was caught off guard, stating, “It was both fun and a little bit surprising.”

However, McCann decided to have some fun with their new bad guy image and kicked things into high gear on Twitter. Their social media team began live tweeting during Mad Men episodes, firing off witty quips and poking fun at themselves. For instance, when fan favorites Joan and Peggy were faced with some rather chauvinistic members of the McCann team their modern day equivalent tweeted the following.

As the season progressed, the fictional Sterling Cooper agency was absorbed into McCann. Soon imagery was created and shared on social welcoming the Mad Men team to McCann. This included a digital sign displayed in the agency’s lobby and a set of ID cards created for the fictional team.

Playing along and cutting off bad publicity at the outset proved successful for McCann. AdWeek notes that McCann’s online mentions/impressions are up 46% since the final episodes began airing. They also found that the agency’s Mad Men related tweets had been retweeted nearly 1,000 times.

There’s a lesson here that can be applied to any brand, large or small. Knowing when to have fun with your branding on social media and not taking yourself too seriously can pay off.

Ever been faced with a PR nightmare? Tell us how you tackled it by tweeting to @lotus823!


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