Amazon stirs social media pot with tongue-in-cheek hashtag

The company announced the third season of its show “The Grand Tour” with the Twitter hashtag #Amazonshitcarshow. Many wondered if the label was a mistake or an inside joke.

A good hashtag is crucial for social media marketing.

Hashtags—words or phrases preceded by a pound (#) sign on social media—help catalog your posts and promotions and can help users find your content. However, it is important to choose hashtags wisely.

Most marketers try to find unique but searchable terms that will give their posts wider reach.

Amazon made waves with its moniker for the third season of its streaming TV series about cars.

The TV show, a program created by former “Top Gear” presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, takes an adventurous and often humorous approach in its quest to appreciate the car with customer reviews, stunts and cross-continent adventures.

Though it certainly wouldn’t be off-brand for the show to showcase an off-color remark on social media, many were confused by the show’s promoted Twitter hashtag.

Was the hashtag “Amazonshitcarshow” an intentional bit of wordplay, or an accidental oversight on how a mashup of words could be misread?

Twitter calls these promotions “promoted trends.” They appear at the top of the trending news on the platform and can come with a designated hashtag.

Twitter writes:

Promoted Trends display at either the top or second to top slots of the “Trends for you” section in your home timeline and Explore tab.

Users who click on a Promoted Trend see Twitter search results for that topic, with a related Promoted Tweet from the advertiser at the top. Tweets on the search results page for Promoted Trends are unfiltered, open, and authentic. (Tweets which violate Twitter’s spam and abuse policy are filtered out as usual).

Some thought Amazon’s hashtag was a colossal oversight.

However, there were some signs that the hashtag was an intentional gag.

The Grand Tour tweeted this video:

Others saw similarities to other PR campaigns:

Metro wrote:

The hashtag for Susan Boyle’s album release in 2012 – #susanalbumparty – was the pinnacle in unintentional marketing genius. So the guys from The Grand Tour are taking a leaf out of the SuBo PR team’s book and using the same format to promote their hit show on Amazon. Or, #amazonshitcarshow, to be more concise.

ZDNet wrote:

#amazonshitcarshow has trended, everyone is talking, and whether or not you think the joke is vulgar, you can’t deny it is excellent marketing.

Leaked internal memos belonging to Amazon have suggested that a show’s worth is based not on its viewers, but estimates on how many new Amazon Prime subscribers it attracts. If trading off the trio, swearing, and a planned marketing failure bring more subscribers to the fold, perhaps this will be enough to ensure the show is given another season.

It does make you wonder, though, if The Grand Tour needs the boost.

Many on Twitter appreciated the joke:

Others couldn’t believe that more people didn’t see the gag was intentional:

Others were reminded of other internet memes:

Does the buzz work in the show’s favor regardless of how many people get the joke? The move has certainly turned into several headlines and made plenty of noise on Twitter—and many expressed excitement for the release.

Here are some lessons from the campaign:

1. Embrace humor and enigma.

The campaign has both laughs and mystery for bored social media users, a combination that often grabs plenty of attention online. By having a joke for some, and a puzzle of what the creators really intended for others, the campaign generated lots of buzz for the show’s launch.

2. Stay true to your voice.

The show has a sophomoric style of humor, which helped fans of the series to immediately grasp the joke. If you are planning a similar stunt, make sure your sense of humor doesn’t undermine your brand voice.

The Grand Tour used that voice in its responses to critics as well.

3. Keep your videos short.

The video announcing the hashtag explains clearly that the hashtag is a joke—but at over two minutes it is horrendously long for a social media video. What’s also clear from the many reactions to the hashtag is that many more people read the hashtag than watched the video.

Just know that your hashtag will reach far more people than your video will, and plan accordingly.

What do you think of the social media campaign PR Daily readers?

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