“Handle” Your Brand With Care


Stephanie Smith, Communications Specialist, Hot Paper Lantern 

In celebration of Mother’s Day, the San Diego Padres were challenged by Budweiser to change their Twitter handle from @Padres to @Madres. In return, Budweiser promised to do something for Padres fans at their next home game. Creative? Yes. Mutually beneficial? Probably. Well-planned? Not so much.  What the Padres didn’t anticipate was someone to swoop in and take the @Padres handle in their absence.

Before the West coast had their coffee, a college baseball player named Ricky Padilla from Poway, California snatched the @Padres handle on Twitter. He got some great publicity and ended up scoring free tickets to an upcoming Padres home game. 

Ricky had a good run, but he didn’t get to keep the Twitter handle for long. The Padres have nearly 400,000 followers, which means the handle has a lot of value. Thankfully for the baseball team, Twitter has full control of usernames and was able to revoke the account switch. 

Let’s be real… everyone loves a brand who goes out of their way to recognize moms on Mother’s Day. Here’s what I didn’t love, though: it was thoughtful, but not well thought out. Unfortunately, when companies don’t anticipate the consequences of a bold move like this, they put their reputation at risk. Instances like this are a great reminder that companies need to do their due diligence before making any changes to their brand, even if those changes are temporary.

If you’re thinking about launching a new marketing, branding or social campaign, here’s some advice:

  • Do a deep Google and hashtag search of any words or terms you’re considering in your campaign
  • Search your hashtag on social channels to make sure it aligns with your messaging
  • If you’re going to change Twitter handles – or URLs, etc. – temporarily, make a burner to protect the original
  • Identify your vulnerabilities before someone else does

 In a saturated market, organizations have to take bold risks to stand out. Marketing tactics have gotten particularly creative in the past year, including Payless’s luxury brand stunt and Burger King’s banter about McDonalds. I have to say, “I’m lovin’ it” – so long as the brand handles its stunt with care.