‘We Ran Landshark’s Twitter for Free for a Year, and Landshark Didn’t Know’

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At a holiday party last year, a friend pulled out his phone and showed off a Twitter account, @DrinkLandshark. It seemed like a pretty normal, if safely boring, brand account — no @DennysDiner–ish “Landshark is lit af” in sight.

It was mostly RTs of people enjoying Landshark Lager, put out by Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville empire (though actually brewed by Anheuser-Busch). Then my friend revealed that he and two other people had been running it for nearly six months, without Landshark’s knowledge, consent, or payment.

In a world where @nihilist_arbys has 212,000 followers, a truly weird prank is now running an almost completely straight-faced brand Twitter account. Granted, this is pretty much like applying to work at Sears, selling shoes there for 16 years, meeting your wife and having two kids, until you slip a disk and get laid off, all for the lulz, but — wouldn’t that be a great prank?

Eventually, Parrotheads found the account, and there were plenty of pics of people tagging @DrinkLandshark at while enjoying an ice-cold Landshark at the beach or on a boat, #FinsUp style.

Unfortunately, the account was shut down today. I spoke over IM with one of the people who ran @DrinkLandshark’s Twitter account for a over a year to get the full story.

How’d you come up with running a brand account for Landshark beer for free?

So, I’m a cheap drunk. One day, I was at a beer warehouse and decided to pick up Landshark on a whim. I drank the 12-pack in — let’s pretend it was a couple of days while my partner was out of the country. That weekend, two friends came to where I lived, and I was telling them that Landshark was a perfectly good nothing beer. It’s crisper than a Bud Light, and so on.

One friend went to tag them on Twitter with my quote about it, and we discovered there was no Landshark Twitter account. A few beers later, my friends and I were riffing what on-brand Landshark tweets would be.

My partner came back from her trip, and eventually, as we’re all drunk riffing on this in the living room, she helped put together a master document that we scheduled out on Tweetdeck, including weird things like wishing Gloria Steinem and Michael Ironside happy birthdays.

But the common thread was that we wanted it to consistently be “on brand” and not insulting toward those who loved Landshark or the Anheuser-Busch company itself, which makes Landshark.

So that’s the how. I guess I’m wondering, what is the “why”?

My friends and I just like to come up with weird ideas that we pour our resources into with little payout. Constantly building jokes. A few beers into the night and it went from “Landshark doesn’t have a Twitter account” to “We will be Landshark’s Twitter account.”

Somewhere in between was “What would you even tweet if you were Jimmy Buffett’s official beer?”

So you had a master doc you worked off and pre-scheduled in Tweetdeck. How much time were you guys spending on this?

Honestly, a lot of the groundwork was laid that first night, and a few days after. But we had probably 100-plus jokes, so we were able to really stretch it out for months on end. After that, we’d just kind of schedule as other jokes came to us — though in the end it all kind of petered out, and to keep up the “brand presence” I started mostly retweeting Landshark fans.

When did Landshark fans start to discover your account?

It took a little while, but it gradually built up. I feel like it was people discovering it the same way that we discovered it: They wanted to tweet the beer they were having.

And that eventually just grew in numbers and legion, though it’s funny that it always kind of ranked in the hundreds for what was supposed to be a “major brand” that I was lovingly pretending to be.

What’s the typical Landshark fan like, would you say?

From everything I saw, it’s just kind of your typical middle-American that likes to have a good time. Landshark itself started because Margaritaville and Corona had some sort of falling-out, so they made their own similar beer. So I think it’s similar to the sort of people that want to chill out at the lake or beach and put a lime in their beer.

It’s somebody who’s maybe a little different than Joe Six-pack. A lot of people sent pictures from their boats or the beach or a marina dock. It’s very … Jimmy-Buffett-fans-who-want-to-have-a-good-time vibe.

So you guys actually had the official Landshark account in Canada thinking you were the real thing?

Yes. Someone sent a complaint about finding wood in their beer, and the Landshark Canada account sent them to us. I panicked a little, as it seemed to spell that my terrible joke might have gone too far, in some ways. And how do you handle it? I sent them the Anheuser-Busch comment form with a joke about it being hard to resolve things in 140 characters.

There was a slight part of me that wondered “What if this is somebody in Canada pulling my exact same weird joke?”

So you got shut down by Margaritaville. What was that like?

I wouldn’t call it shut down, quite. I chose to deactivate the account after getting three DMCA takedown notices. I had originally joked that if it ever happened, I’d do my best to hand over the keys to Margaritaville. But it seemed that they were less than amused from the DMCA language, so I decided that maybe I should just pull out of the game.

What will you miss most about running @DrinkLandshark?

There was just something to the earnest, uncynical tweets to a domestic beer that made me happy in some way totally insulated from my East Coast cynicism. Like a glimpse into a slice of the American life I never see.