Carri Bugbee, a Portland OR, PR agency owner has started a new business at www.supportingcharacters.com that is designed to help companies utilize Twitter to their advantage by replicating what made Ms. Bugbee ‘famous’ in the first place. In February, the first Knight Foundation-backed Shorty Awards honored Ms. Bugbee’s “Mad Men” character tweets as the year’s best Twitter advertising campaign. This award recognized her ‘campaign’ to become the Twitter version of Peggy Olson, the executive assistant turned copywriter and a whole lot more. I use quotes around campaign because ordinarily these kinds of things are paid for but Ms. Bugbee did this on her own and outside of any input from the show or AMC which airs it.
For those who are not in the know (meaning you do not watch Mad Men which includes me) the show is about the goings on in a 1960’s advertising agency (the fictional Sterling Cooper) and in particular the main character Don Draper. In order to take on this Twitter persona Ms. Bugbee simply grabbed the PeggyOlson handle and started going for it. The result was a lot of followers (12,606) and an idea to revise her business strategy for other possible characterizations of characters. You can watch a video of Ms. Bugbee explaining this whole process over at AdAge.
So, I’ll be honest here. What I see is someone who basically hijacks a social media handle (akin to domain squatting), takes over the character’s ‘life’ on Twitter without any guidance from anyone related to the show and wins an award. Gotta love America.
Maybe I’m not on top of things but I just don’t get this at all. Are people that wrapped up in TV shows that they will actually follow a fake version of a fictional character and interact? Help me here. Look, I respect the fact that there is probably a market for this and more power to anyone who can tap into it but where does the entertainment begin and end in our lives anymore? Is it better to sit in front of your computer all day and follow the exploits of a fictional character who is being played by another ‘actor’ other than the real actor / writer or engage in a conversation with a, gulp, human being?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.