I’m certain that when Lisa from “We Buy Any Car .com” (yes – the company with the really annoying theme tune) turned up at her desk today to (among other things) look after their official Twitter account, she wasn’t quite prepared for what was to follow.
Not exactly renowned for their Twitter activity – @webuyanycar typically gets half a dozen tweets a week (the past couple of days they’ve had no-one talk to them at all on Twitter), so clearly something happened today to result in them attracting over 600 tweets (and counting).
What happenned? This:
In summary – Jamie tweeted the letter he received back from WeBuyAnyCar.com after he had ‘jokingly’ tried to get them to buy his “Little Tikes” kiddie car. It does say “anycar” after all. A bit of playful fun it seemed, resulting in a not so playful response from a representative from WBAC (I’ve resorted to using their initials, as I keep reminding myself of the jingle) called Adam Jennings. Booo Adam.. it was just a bit of fun, and clearly not intended to offend… so why the grumpy response. Bad form!
People started Re-Tweeting Jamie, with many of them quick to berate WBAC for their lack of social skills, and “sense of humour by-pass”, many of them also taking the opportunity to “have a go” about other issues they had with the company. Let’s be honest – WBAC probably aren’t the most liked company at the best of times. Even @antanddec found it funny enough to RT, and with nearly 3Million followers, it didn’t take long for Jamie’s letter to go viral – with over 20,000 RTs!
Fast becoming a PR disaster, poor Lisa was at the receiving end of a barrage of Tweets. I’ll admit myself to thinking that they’d made a monumentous cock-up, and had missed what could have been a fantastic PR opportunity – remember the Sainsbury’s Giraffe Bread story, or the Bodyform response?
How could WBAC not see the opportunity here, and why had their man Adam Jennings sent such a terribly unfriendly letter?
Actually – he didn’t.
The whole thing was a lie.. a fake.. a hoax. Jamie had made the whole thing up. He admited as much in a follow up Tweet – probably in the realisation that the reach of the whole story was becomming so wide that he maybe risked some form of legal action from WBAC for slander or copyright misuse or impersonation.. There was no Adam Jennings, it was all just for a bit of fun. But was it fun at the expense of Lisa and WBAC? After all – even after the admission that it was a hoax, people were still Re-Tweeting the original one, still poking fun at WBAC, and still filling up Lisa’s Twitter “inbox” with 100′s of messages, many of them not so flattering.
So what did WBAC do? Did they get the lawyers on the case? Did they demand the tweet be removed? Did Lisa walk out and resign under the pressure? No. They played along.
They realised that Jamie’s tweet was not intended to harm the company, not real criticism or a hate campaign that some businesses see on Twitter.. no – this was just Jamie having a bit of fun. On a personal level, part of me really admires the guy for his creativity (earning him over 2000 new twitter followers)… The NSDesign team have done our fair share of Twitter windups over the years, so I kind of understand why he did it.. And so I’m guessing does Lisa.
From her first tweet this morning – “We’ve never had so many tweets! Thanks Adam, whoever you are!” to her witty one-liners, and RT’s of others, Lisa didn’t hide from this escalating story. She certainly did us a favour with a RT of our own attempt at humour:
It didn’t take long for public opinion to sway… as people began to side with WBAC and turn what was criticism into praise, and to congratulate them on their handling of the whole situation.
While they might still not be the most liked company out there, I’m certain that the actions of Lisa, and her fun friendly chat on Twitter today, won’t have done anything to harm them – and I for one am now a follower! Is this the end of the story? Probably not… and I suspect that WBAC might continue to turn a negative into further positives in the days to come. And good on them I say.
UPDATE: 01 October 2013:
WeBuyAnyCar.com has just launched a new initiative – aimed at proving they DO buy ANY car! Well done on www.webuyanytoycar.com - a nice ending to the whole story.