When I first discovered the Burlington Coat Factory’s Twitter account, I couldn’t look away. With the account linked to the company website, all signs pointed to its legitimacy but I just couldn’t figure out their marketing motive.
For years I had seen their commercials…
I bought this designer coat at the department store for $130!”
For $130 at Burlington, I bought that exact same coat, a coat for my husband, a coat for my daughter, AND a coat for my son!”
…but I had never thought of the brand as one that could make fun of itself, or others, as they were apparently doing through their Twitter account.
The @BurlCoatFactory Twitter account (now @NotCoatFactory) first joined the Twittersphere this past summer. At first, the tweets were typical for a brand, and it went as far as interacting with happy customers with retweets and replies that thanked them for shopping.
A few days later, these thoughtful thank yous turned into humorous, yet inappropriate responses.
As the summer went on, the tweets became increasingly odd. By the end of August, tweets were filled with grammatical errors, missing words, and nonsensical phrases. “#Coats” was no longer used as an assumed promotional hashtag, but rather a joke, adding it to messages that had nothing to do with coats at all.
Soon the account was rapidly gaining followers, and each tweet was stranger than the next. But the one question on everyone’s mind was: “Is this really the Burlington Coat Factory?” It was eventually confirmed that this was in fact, a parody account, and tweets continued without any word from Burlington (whose real account is @Burlington).
Suddenly, on October 3rd, the tweeting stopped. While it is unconfirmed why, it can be assumed that Burlington Coat Factory requested the account be terminated due to the confusion regarding its validity and association with the company.
But you can’t keep a determined and successful parody account down for long. The very next day the account was back with the new handle @NotCoatFactory and a new Twitter bio that expresses it is indeed a parody, and is in no way related to Burlington.
Now that the account is back in action, it has begun referring to Burlington as Bullyton Coat Factory, which can only let us believe that Burlington was very unhappy with the presence of a parody. But with the current hype surrounding the Burlington Coat Factory, thanks to this account, is Burlington really handling this situation in the best way?
Rather than remaining quiet, and being viewed as angry “Bullyton Coat Executives,” the brand should be embracing the opportunity. As proven by the nearly 12,800 followers of @NotCoatFactory, people like when a company can make fun of itself; it makes a brand more relatable and personable. Burlington should be taking advantage of social media’s ability to give brands a bigger personality than ever before, and react even in just one tweet or statement to the account. By responding, it will let allow fans to see that they are not just a brand but that they are a brand with character that loves and respects its fans.
What do you think? What are some of your favorite brand parody accounts?