Smokey Says, “Only You Can Prevent Username Squatting”

Steve Levy ⬥ 15 April

Here on the FairWinds blog, we have written extensively about social media username squatting, and the importance of companies securing the proper usernames and handles on different social networking sites in order to protect their brands. Our message has been straightforward: companies should be diligent about registering usernames early, because the process to recover already-registered names can be tricky to navigate, if not impossible.

An article that appeared in Ad Age this week shed light on yet another facet of the challenge companies face with social media. According to the article, “Twitter identity theft” has turned its sights to brand mascots. Mr. Clean, Chef Boyardee and the Pillsbury Doughboy are among the famous brand characters who have found their corresponding Twitter handles registered by people outside the brands they represent. The Twitter doppelganger of the Pillsbury Doughboy occasionally tweets about Pillsbury products, but the Twitter Chef Boyardee is more or less just a foul-mouthed Charlie Sheen devotee. And Twitter’s Mr. Clean does not, in fact, appear to be bald.

Someone also went ahead and registered @Grrrrrrrrrrreat, Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger’s catchphrase. That’s a total of eleven Rs in that handle.

On the other hand, certain brand mascots have taken their rightful place in the Twitter ecosystem, including Quaker’s Cap’n Crunch, the AFLAC Duck and Smokey the Bear. There can be various benefits and challenges in terms of marketing a brand mascot on Twitter – the article mentions that many mascots are highly regulated, each tiny detail meticulously controlled – and it may actually be detrimental for certain mascots to delve into the world of tweeting. But regardless of whether or not a company decides to debut its brand mascot on Twitter, or any other social networking platform for that matter, it is wise to secure the most important usernames for these characters in order to prevent them, and the company’s brand message, from being hijacked.

Tags: Ad Age, AFLAC Duck, brand mascot, brands, Cap’n Crunch, Chef Boyardee, FairWinds, Frosted Flakes, Mr. Clean, Pillsbury Doughboy, Social Media, social networking sites, Twitter, username squatting

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