On Tuesday, a hero was born. His name was Paul. Full name: Paul Who Tweets for British Gas.
When he woke up on Tuesday morning, Paul had no idea that it would be a defining day for his career and indeed social media. Like every other day, he ate his Coco Pops and sang along to ‘Rebel Rebel’ while putting his H&M pants on.
Remembering that it was exactly a year since the tragic death of his favourite singer, Paul looked up at the David Bowie poster on his wall and felt himself welling up. “No more tears” said the voice of Davie Bowie in Paul’s head. “Just to go work, Paul.” So he did.
Like every other day, Paul got off the bus and marched into the office with ‘Space Oddity’ ringing out in his ears. “Morning everyone!” said Paul to his colleagues, like he does every morning cos Paul’s a nice bloke. “Morning Paul!” they replied.
Like every other day, Paul started up his computer, logged-in to the British Gas Help Twitter and contemplated his first tweet. He was thinking of tweeting something about gas but then he remembered something they all discussed at the last British Gas Tone of Voice away-day at Centre Parks: be more human.
“Sod it” thought Paul, “As well as letting everyone know that I’m available for customer enquiries as normal, I’m gonna pay tribute to my favourite artist. I’m not even gonna use spellcheck cos that’s not what David Bowie would’ve wanted.” And so he tweeted.
After pressing ‘tweet’, Paul nipped to the loo for a quick wee. When he returned, his Tweetdeck was moving too fast to read and his phone was going mental. “Nailed it,” thought Paul. And then the phone rang.
“Paul, we’re getting a lot of negative messages about your David Bowie tweet,” said MadeUp Marketing Executive from British Gas. “People think that paying homage to a dead legend in the same tweet as customer service messaging is insensitive.”
Everything went into slow motion for Paul. “Why are people getting so angry?” he thought. “I just love David Bowie.”
Then followed several hours of people tweeting abuse at Paul. Paul and his team replied to as many of them as possible but Paul was unfortunately becoming 2017’s first viral sensation for all the wrong reasons.
As he arrived home at 9.52pm on Tuesday night, knackered and broken, he looks up at his Bowie poster. “I’m sorry, David” he thought to himself. “I didn’t mean to cause offence”. “None taken,” replied the voice of David Bowie in Paul’s head. “It was just people on Twitter being dicks.”
I guess my point is: yes Paul’s tweet was a bit daft – it’s definitely best not to combine tributes to dead legends with customer service messaging. But unlike in other cases of brand tweet fails, Paul is genuinely a fan of David Bowie and was just trying to show some real personality behind a corporate Twitter account.
Other brands can learn a lot from Paul. We should all be more like Paul.
Bowie was right: we can be heroes. Just for one day.