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Brief Published: 25 Feb 2013

Hacking: Risk and Opportunity


The news that fast-food chain Burger King and Chrysler Group marque Jeep both had their Twitter accounts hacked by online deviants last week has sparked a new concern for brands. But this new trend for hacking online content (initiated by an increasingly enabled, digital-savvy consumer) can actually offer brands an opportunity to connect with audiences in more human and interesting ways.

After hackers replaced logos with those of rival companies and claimed the host brands had been sold, Burger King and Jeep were able to respond quickly and amend the damage.

While brands are at growing risk from computer hackers, prompt action can minimise damage and even create benefits by increasing interaction with consumers. For one, the incidents drew wider attention to the affected Twitter accounts. Global research group Synthesio says the Burger King hack triggered 450,000 tweets about the issue, and that Burger King gained 30,000 new Twitter followers as a result. The hacks even inspired music television brand MTV to stage its own hack, tweeting with the #hack hashtag in a bid for more online attention.

As detailed in our Visualise Me report, consumers enabled by the internet are going to consume, share, and play with your brand and its content in any way they see fit, whether you like it or not. As a brand, allow and encourage this interaction. Bear in mind that while this new form of marketing might seem negative at first glance, it is in fact inherently positive.

Our report Meaningful Conversations from 2012’s Cannes Lions event explores more of this brand-consumer engagement, as does our profile on Josh Klein, a Benevolent Hacker. Also keep an eye out for a more in-depth look at news jacking and its marketing potential, coming later this week.