Fan fiction exists in many different forms, but the hit U.S. television program ‘Mad Men‘ has inspired a unique group of its online fans to write micro-blog posts on Twitter under the fictional guise – and voices – of the show’s characters.
As cool an indea as this sounds, it seems these 140 character, in-character, mini-missives didn’t sit well with AMC’s legal team and they subsequently had Twitter shut down all of the feeds, creating an instant, instant message backlash from the show’s impassioned audience.
Cable network AMC has angered online fans of its critically acclaimed drama “Mad Men” by asking social networking site Twitter to shut down feeds inspired by the show.
The fan-penned feeds consist of brief text-message-length posts in the voices of “Mad Men” characters. Users can subscribe to the daily musings of virtual Don Draper, Peggy Olson and other employees of fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper.
Twitter’s presentation doesn’t make clear whether the feeds are endorsed by the network, and AMC didn’t appreciate that some of the characters promoted products other than the show (including Twitter itself). The network complained, and Twitter yanked some of the feeds, causing the surviving “characters” to start frantically Twittering about getting “fired.”
As Gawker accurately observes, this is a hugely missed opportunity for AMC — and one that both devalues the show’s ardent fans and fails to capitalize on the unique power of social media:
What could have been cleverly co-opted and adapted into a subtle viral marketing campaign has now been yanked from the interwaves (most likely by reactionary lawyers, our ad dept suspects), deeply upsetting committed yet attention-deficit Twitterers. This is reminiscent of NBC’s rabid squashing of any content on YouTube that relates to its shows. I can understand entire episodes being pulled, but little clips here and there seem to increase buzz and to potentially earn the shows (specifically SNL) some new fans. While on a smaller scale than NBC’s watchdoggery, folks at AMC cited the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when they silenced the tweets—essentially calling the one or two sentences-long Twitter messages (Twitter messages!!! I hardly know what those are!) unauthorized fanfiction, and therefore verboten. As Alejandra Ramos points out, it’s pretty ironic that the show about advertising fails to recognize a good opportunity to… advertise.