Update: Red Bull has backed down, on the proviso that Redwell doesn’t put its name on energy drinks.

Redwell's beers. Or wait, is it Red Bull? I'm so confused!

Redwell’s beers. Or wait, is it Red Bull? I’m so confused!

Red Bull, the mega-brand behind the caffeine/taurine/tastes-a-bit-like-death-filled energy drink as well as massive amounts of sports sponsorship including fully owned sports teams, a hefty F1 sponsorship deal and extreme sports sponsorships including its own air race has issued legal warnings to small Norwich-based microbrewery Redwell Brewing.

The mega-brand is worried that there will be confusion in consumers between itself and the micro-brand and has demanded that Redwell changes its name, Redwell being a small business with eight people working there.


This might seem like an odd thing to get fired up about, but it strikes me as corporate insanity and I’m clearly in an easily rattled mood.

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Disclaimer:  I am now an intern at M&M Global, a media and marketing trade journal, but this piece does NOT represent the views of the magazine.  Also, see that word intern:  That means I’m a rung on the ladder below junior.  Views to be taken with a pinch of salt.

A Twitter campaign run by McDonald’s got a little out of hand a few days ago.  The fast food chain promoted two tweets with two hashtags encouraging tweeters to 1) learn about the McDonald’s supply chain with #meetthefarmers and 2) share their stories about their McDonald’s experiences with #McDStories.

The meet the farmers hashtag was doomed to mediocrity from conception.  It’s a nice idea and apparently did quite well, but isn’t going to engage mass audiences.  Besides, as soon as you give most people the word ‘farmer’, they instantly translate it into a West Country accent.  When I used to tell people I went to Farmor’s School, you could see them doing it in their heads.

The second hashtag however was just plain doomed from conception.  If you’ve spent any amount of time in the real world, or indeed on Twitter, you don’t need any marketing training or experience to know where the #McDStories was going to go.  Instead of the warm and fuzzy “I’m Lovin’ It” tweets they were apparently expecting, the hashtag very quickly filled up with horror stories and general bile directed towards the golden arches.  The promoted tweet was pulled after a couple of hours when they saw how their social marketing audience had turned.

This incident was reported just about everywhere and heralded as one of the first social media marketing gaffs of the year.  I can’t help feeling however that there’s something more to it.

I think McDonald’s got a lot of mileage out of that one promoted tweet.

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