Saturday, December 20, 2008

BK sends Twitter atwitter

Twitter is still new enough to prompt a commemoration from its hyper-growing fan base of every first-ever use for the social network. And yesterday brought just such a milestone: The first use of the system for a legal action, though it's not clear if the cease-and-desist communication was genuine or a viral marketing ploy. Which is why it should come as no surprise that Burger King is involved.

For those of you who've not been converted (yet), Twitter is in essence a micro version of blogging. Members of the network post 140-character reports on what they're doing, be it getting ready for bed, pushing a new product, assessing Leno's monologue, looking for help on an illness, trying to find a job, or publishing a new full-sized blog installment elsewhere (a hyperlink can be part of those 140 characters). You're known by your Twitter name, and a lot of thinking often goes into the selection of that handle.

Depending on what you believe, one Twitter-ite made the mistake of coming up with whoppervirgin, which is also the name BK has given to the outlanders who were asked to participate in a taste test between the Whopper and the Big Mac. The taste-testers were chosen from places like Roumania, Thailand and Greenland because they'd never eaten either sandwich before--or, in at least some instances, a hamburger of any sort. Now they're stars of BK's new marketing campaign.

The social network is all, um, atwitter because BK supposedly sent a cease-and-desist communique to whoppervirgin, claiming it owned the tradename. A cease-and-desist letter is usually somewhat stiff and formal, written over an attorney's name. BK used Twitter's 140-character format. Indeed, here's the message in full: "@whoppervirgins CEASE AND DESIST. UNAUTHORIZED USE OF TRADEMARK. What is your motivation by the way...?" It was sent over BK's Twitter name, TheBKlounge.

Many Twitter fanatics, myself included, didn't even know of TheBKlounge until the matter was tweeted and retweeted (Twitter-ese for posted and reposted, respectively). Now I, and presumably plenty of other community members, are now "following" TheBKlounge, or receiving everything it tweets. Not a bad way to instantly expand your presence on a communications system that's growing exponentially.

So was there a whoppervirgin? Consider a few of its posts: "I hate soggy buns." "Got some ketchup seepage. Wondering if I need a doctor." "Got sesame seeds stuck in oddest places." "Marinating in my own juices."

What do you think?

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