Brit Awards sponsor Mastercard got a priceless surprise on the morning of the event when it emerged its PR agency , House PR, offered a Telegraph journalist press accreditation in exchange for publishing promotional tweets.
Telegraph writer Tim Walker sent a copy of an email to news site the Press Gazette which detailed the conditions House PR attached to his press pass, including a requirement on him to publish pre-written tweets with the Mastercard Twitter handle and its #PricelessSurprises hashtag.
The email requested Walker publish tweets before, during and after the event, and guarantee Mastercard’s inclusion in any post event write-ups, both print and online, with hashtags and URLs included.
The agency concluded: “We are really looking forward for you to join us at the awards with us on Wednesday and if you could let us know you are happy with all the above that would be great
“Please let us know if you have any further questions and look forward to hearing from you.”
Dawbell PR handles overall press accreditation activities for the Brit Awards. The Drum was awaiting comment from Dawbell, House PR and Mastercard at time of publication.
House PR won the Mastercard Brit Awards sponsor account in December last year following a competitive pitch, replacing the previous year’s agency, Kaper. The brand has sponsored the event for the last 16 years, and the agency was quoted at the time as saying the agency’s music credentials and experience would “ensure a fresh approach to the sponsorship amplification”.
Meanwhile, Twitter users have been giving Mastercard the kind of priceless Brit Awards publicity they may not have been expecting.
Mastercard and Brit Awards go Soviet! hacks MUST Mention the sponsors in their reports or no press credentials! Vhttp://bit.ly/1fg6bYU
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) February 19, 2014
Today we'll have many #PricelessSurprises in the form of new articles. You're even allowed to disagree with them, & tweet your own opinions!
— Comment is free (@commentisfree) February 19, 2014
— Press Gazette (@pressgazette) February 19, 2014
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 19, 2014
I love Mastercard. Can I come to the Brits now? #PricelessSurprises
— Media Guido (@MediaGuido) February 19, 2014
— The Media Blog (@TheMediaTweets) February 19, 2014
Want an example of how a hashtag can be hijacked by annoyed stakeholders? Try #pricelesssurprises. Hilarious.
— Katie Singer (@KatieHSinger) February 19, 2014
— Dippy Daisies (@Dippydaisies) February 19, 2014
Bit ironic that Mastercard spent cash on #pricelesssurprises as a "promoted" UK Twitter trend when, in fact, it would be trending anyway
— Jane Merrick (@janemerrick23) February 19, 2014
— Tom Mitchell (@therealtommitch) February 19, 2014
It's never a good PR move to insult the nation's journalists. #PricelessSurprises
— Tim Uden (@TimUden) February 19, 2014
— Nicola Harper (@HarperInTheCity) February 19, 2014
For some members of the media, like Dazed’s digital news editor Zing Tsjeng (who has since been in touch with The Drum to say it was only a joke) and Cosmopolitan’s entertainment director Jacqui Meddings. it’s all become a rather awkward moment.
— Zing Tsjeng (@misszing) February 19, 2014
— Jacqui Meddings (@JacquiCosmo) February 19, 2014
And in a lunchtime update, House PR has had a change of heart.
Victory! House PR (MasterCard's PR) have just been in touch to say I can attend @britAWARDs now with NO conditions. What should I do folks?
— Tim Walker (@ThatTimWalker) February 19, 2014