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Newcastle Extends No Bollocks Narrative in Pay-for-Followers Twitter Campaign

  |  June 5, 2014   |  Comments

The effort, which is meant to increase the brand’s Twitter following by 50,000, is incredibly transparent, but does not reward existing fans.

With a lot of brands working hard to spin narratives, Newcastle Brown Ale has taken a decidedly different approach in its very straightforward Follow the Money campaign. The initiative is attempting to lure 50,000 new Twitter followers with one of the oldest tricks in the book: money.

Or, as the brand puts it on Twitter, new followers will "get a check for one millionth of a million dollars, which is actually $1."

Newcastle announced the effort in a YouTube video, which, as of June 4, had 7,900 views.

Newcastle has also launched a very straight-and-to-the-point website, follownewcastleontwitter.com, to drive the message home. The site redirects to Newcastle's Twitter page.

Consumers don't have to utilize the site to be eligible for cold, hard cash, but there is no reward for fans that followed the brand prior to the campaign launch, according to Scott Bell, creative director at advertising agency Droga5, which developed the campaign.

Newcastle will send out direct messages to its new fans once a day about how to get their dollars.

As of June 4, the brand had 24,000 followers, which is up from about 15,000 when the campaign launched, Bell says.

The brand has always been active on Facebook and has around 1 million fans, but didn't have many Twitter followers despite increased activity there, he says.

"Basically, the brief from the client was to get people on Twitter to follow us. Our brand's philosophy has always been to do things in the most No Bollocks, no bullsh*t way," Bell says. "We got the budget for the project to get people to follow them and said, 'What if we just gave people money to follow us?' which was pretty much it. There are middlemen places where you can go to get people to follow you, but it's $3 to $8 per follower and we thought, 'Why not just cut out the middleman?'"

Newcastle's No Bollocks campaign launched in 2012 with the promise of "good beer without the bollocks of traditional beer advertising," according to the Droga5 website.

Bell says the effort targets active Twitter users of legal drinking age. In fact, the site asks, "Are you legally old enough to get $1 richer for following us on Twitter?"

Newcastle has tweeted about "Follow the Money", but Bell says the brand is basically relying on the premise of free money to generate attention.

"I think that was a big part of giving away money," Bell says. "We assumed things would get picked up organically."

Newcastle is imported by Heineken USA. A rep was not available for comment by deadline.

"We're always pretty straightforward and this was one of most straightforward ideas we've ever had," Bell says. "There's really nothing more to it than that. It's the least bullsh*t thing we could think of. What we thought was so refreshing about it was...any time you're working on these projects, [clients] challenge you to give the Internet what it wants, but you're never working with the biggest budget, but you do try to give them what they want and, in this case, who doesn't want free money?"

For his part, Gary Stein, senior vice president of strategy and planning at digital marketing agency iCrossing, thinks the money-for-followers concept is a good move for Newcastle.

"The good news is that Newcastle has done so much positioning around the 'No Bollocks' idea that they can get away with this. No one else could, even though I think we have all at some point made that calculation: 'We should just pay people,'" Stein says. "This is the strength of a big idea – it can let you go into places and come up with ideas that no one else could get away with. Good for them."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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