If there's a blazing hot topic right now in marketing, it's Twitter. Lots of brands caught on quickly (e.g. the legendary @DellOutlet), while countless other brands are either conspicuously absent from the site or failing to use it to its full potential. It's an interesting and increasingly important medium, but lots of marketers are still struggling to figure out how to connect with the site's elusive community.
Mashable recently posted an article about how A&E, a brand that only recently became sexy thanks to the wild popularity of reality TV, has attempted to creatively engage the Twittersphere in a promotion.
The idea is that Thomas Pendelton, famed tattoo artist and star of A&E show 'Tattoo Highway', will do one lucky fan the honor of permanently inking their Twitter name on their body free of charge. Here's how one goes about entering the contest: follow Thomas Pendelton on Twitter, then @reply him with hashtag #A&EWed10. Explain in your tweet why and where you want the tattoo, and then get your followers to back you up with re-tweets. The winner will be announced Wendnesday at 10pm.
A&E's Twitter campaign interests me because they're doing a lot of things right, but not trending as far as I can tell. Here are the things I like about the effort: the medium is Twitter, which automatically makes it a fascinating case study. It involves a celebrity tweeter - always fun. And it uniquely demonstrates that there are actually people (multiple people) that want to have their Twitter names tattooed onto their bodies.
So what's the problem? It's generating some buzz, but buzz doesn't really cut it on Twitter. A deafening roar is the only thing likely to catch people's attention. It looks to me like the only people who are actually tweeting about this are 1. marketers who find the campaign interesting and 2. the scant few people that actually want tattoos of their Twitter names. If you run a search of the hashtag #A&EWed10, you'll see that the search only gets a handful of new tweets per hour. A good contest will hopefully become a trending topic and have to be refreshed every couple of seconds. Ultimately, I think they messed up on one of the most basic marketing principles - making sure your offer is something people want. While I think this is a creative idea and has a lot of the elements of a strong Twitter campaign, I'm afraid it's turning out to be a #fail.