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August 26, 2008

AMC responds to 'Mad Men' Twitter flap

TwitterpicUPDATED: AMC has issued a statement in support of  Twitter-based "Mad Men" characters after online fans were angered that the popular social-networking site yanked the feeds.

"We (AMC) did reach out to Twitter to discuss it," a network statement read. "The network thinks this is a great expression of the passionate fan base of Mad Men."

The fan-written feeds are in the voices of "Mad Men" characters, with users subscribing to the daily musings of virtual Don Draper, Peggy Olson and other employees from Sterling Cooper.

Except Twitter’s presentation doesn’t make it entirely 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 (to the lawyer-minded, "Don_Draper is using Twitter" could be taken as an endorsement). The network contacted Twitter and the site yanked some of the feeds, causing the surviving "characters" to start frantically Twittering about their co-workers getting "fired."

"It seems very quiet in the office today," noted boss Bertram Cooper.

"I worked hard. I did my job. But the boys at Twitter are just as churlish as the boys at Sterling Cooper. Such a pity they're so petty," wrote Olson on a newly registered account after her first feed was suspended.

The shutdown also resulted in some bloggers and Twitter fans laying into AMC: "Its legal maneuvering may go down as the single worst use (misuse?) of social media," wrote Adrants.com.

"AMC's pointless, clueless, tone-deaf and mean-spirited legal action," described TVBarn.

Though anybody can legally pretend to be any made-up character, Twitter could be in violation of AMC's trademark if its presentation successfully confuses readers as to whether the feeds are endorsed by the network.

Network sources claim AMC wanted merely to discuss the feeds with Twitter due to concerns about the content. The network did not intend for the feeds to be yanked altogether -- and it certainly did not wish to cause a headache-inducing online backlash. After all, Twitter is effectively promoting the critically acclaimed drama (which has dropped sharply in the ratings since its premiere this season) to young online users that may have never previously even heard of AMC. This is free advertising. Don Draper would approve.

By end of day Tuesday, the Twitter feeds were restored.

"I'm back," wrote Olson. "And I feel like the new girl at Sterling Cooper. Thanks so much to all who offered their friendship during this trying time."


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