Firstly, a potted history of the Twitter phenomenon that is ‘Ed Balls day’.
Five years ago, the former Labour shadow secretary was shopping in a supermarket for ingredients to make a slow cooked pulled pork shoulder. That’s right, Ed Balls was pulling pork before you.
He had searched for an article about himself on Twitter using his phone and then at 4.20pm accidentally tweeted his own name.
— Ed Balls (@edballs) 28 April 2011
Then the internet happened.
Happy #EdBallsDay. Here is a poem entitled “Ed Balls”. pic.twitter.com/7EkVVISWGp
— Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) April 28, 2016
Naturally, it gathered thousands of retweets with users keen to showcase a classic ‘dad on social media’ moment.
But after five years, there’s a feeling that #EdBallsDay has become too commercialised.
Much like Christmas, has enthusiasm dulled as the spirit of the holiday is gradually being taken over by brands?
It’s a shame Ed Balls Day has lost its true meaning. Too commercialised these days. #EdBallsDay
— David Wriglesworth (@Wriggy) April 28, 2016
Recently, the death of Prince put a lot of corporate social media channels under scrutiny for attempting to make themselves relevant in a context that has nothing to do with their brand values.
While corporations joining in on this Twitter in-joke is nowhere near as insensitive, there’s an overwhelming feeling of… why?
Laboured puns desperately trying to shoehorn either ‘Ed’ or ‘Balls’ into a product, corporate handles tweeting their own names – there’s an overwhelming feeling that brands are joining conversations that they were neither invited to, nor welcome in.
TwistED DoughBALLS. #EdBallsDay pic.twitter.com/FwTWc82XHD
— Domino’s Pizza UK (@Dominos_UK) April 28, 2016
@MetroUK Stop it.
— Oscar Tollast (@DorsetEchoOscar) April 28, 2016
The meta-culture of social media is one of the things which gave prominence to its rise.
From the days of using forum acronyms IRL, there has always been a unique element to nuances that develop purely in niche communities.
— Google UK (@GoogleUK) April 28, 2016
These in-jokes quickly become stale when either the subject of them becomes too aware of the publicity, or when they feature in advertising campaigns.
Fortunately for the online community, the politician took the fame in good humour and even joined in on the joke, integrating the spike in awareness to his political campaign (sadly Ed lost his seat in the last election).
Here we go again… ! RT @edballsmp: Ed Balls pic.twitter.com/EhIPfbmQRo
— Ed Balls (@edballs) 28 April 2015
Brands tweeting about Ed Balls feels a bit like your parents liking a Facebook status about a messy night out you’ve been on.
So mum, dad, Metro. Let the kids have their fun, and don’t spoil the party.
Having said that, we’ve just written an entire blog post about Ed Balls day.
Far from trying to join the branded party, just know that at Econsultancy we celebrate the true spirit of Ed Balls day.
Whilst we won’t be tweeting ‘Ed Balls’ or ‘Econsultancy’ at 4.20pm today, we will be watching this.