Twitter outrage when you attempt to bribe them #Priceless… for everything else there’s #Mastercard


The look on their face when you attempt to bribe them #Priceless…. for everything else there’s #Mastercard. They recently crossed over into the shady grey world of PR bribery. You might have heard fragments of the story.

Mastercard’s PR agency, House PR, went ahead and offered Telegraph journalist, Tim Walker, a press pass to the Brit Awards on the condition that he shamelessly plug Mastercard and the hashtag associated with the brand #PricelessSurprises on Twitter. Walker wasn’t even given creative license on the tweets – the content of each one was specifically outlined in an email he later released (hence how the situation blew up in Mastercard’s face). Needless to say the whole debacle erupted into a Twitter storm of negativity directed at House PR and Mastercard.



However, after looking into the Twitter data with Audiense it seems the Mastercard #PricelessSurprises hashtag was not a fail at all. The negativity surrounding the hashtag was namely from the industry itself and outweighed by its popularity with the TV audience. In total the 14,992 tweets that used the hashtag during 24 hours had a potential reach of over 25 million people. Interestingly, the Audiense data shows us that the hashtag was a hit with the public, it also didn’t hurt that celebrities such as Kylie Minogue got involved on the night, mentioning and retweeting the hashtag several times.


1.5 per cent of tweets using the hashtag were sent by journalists, editors and reporters and for the most part negative.



The PR agency in question certainly didn’t improve Mastercard’s media relationships with their actions, however, the overall campaign was clearly a success with the public, who may not have heard about the so-called blunder. It certainly helped that popular celebrities used the hashtag.

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  • Yeah but what’s the point if it’s a negative feedback, you are creating the wrong kind of engagement.

    • Cassie Hayes

      Hi Julenne, thanks for your comment! We found that although there was some negative feedback from industry professionals the general consensus from the public audience was positive. 🙂