Don’t we all day dream about being contacted by a stranger and being offered a free trip abroad? Out of nowhere, a phone call, email, a tweet offering us free airfare to the other side of the world. Ahhhh….doesn’t that sound lovely?
It happened to a 22 year old American woman, Ashley Kerekes, because she picked an unusual Twitter handle three years ago: “The Ashes.” Little did she know that the Ashes were a lot more than the nickname that her ex-boyfriend gave her or that it would eventually win her a free trip to Australia.
Before I tell you how it happened, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with this sports lingo. According to Wikipedia, The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. It is the most celebrated rivalry in international cricket and dates back to 1882. It is currently played biennially, alternately in the United Kingdom and Australia. A Test series is the highest level of play in this sport.
And for anyone who doesn’t know, cricket is taken VERY seriously in these countries and in much of the world. Years ago, when I studied in England, my British boyfriend at the time played cricket. I quickly learned that it required the better part of the day to play, involved a tea break and that it was very difficult for me to stay motivated to cheer him on after the first hour or so (sorry cricket fans – I’m just being honest – and I know many of you feel the same way about American baseball!)
Ok, back to how Ms. Kerekes landed a free trip to Australia….
With the start of The Ashes, the internet went abuzz. Ms. Kerekes, also known on Twitter as @TheAshes, attracted hundreds of followers who began commenting on the upcoming match. The more she protested their messages saying that “I am not a cricket match!”, the more that followed. She went from having 300 followers to 3,000 nearly overnight. The number skyrocketed to 13,000! (She currently has nearly 18,000!)
Then a movement began on twitter: “get@theashestotheashes.” After all, any good global citizen needs to know cricket, right?
It didn’t take long before Vodafone, an official sponsor of the The Ashes, offered tickets to The Ashes and a free phone so that she could tweet from the match. Ford offered her a car for her stay in Australia. Quantas showed up at the online party and offered her a free ticket to Australia.
And what did Ms. Kerekes do in return? A true negotiator, she parlayed a ticket for her boyfriend to seal the deal! That girl has what some would consider “moxy!”
She began to take a more serious interest in cricket, asking questions on Twitter to try to better understand the sport. She attended the final match of The Ashes and met the Prime Minister of Australia. Vodafone, Ford and Quantas got great PR . Win-win for all involved.
And in true entrepreneurial spirit, Ms. Kerekes is now selling t-shirts (see logo above) that scream: “I am not a freaking cricket match!”
The good news, thankfully, is that Ms. Kerekes has a much greater appreciation for more than her corner of the globe. She recently tweeted about how much snow she was getting in Massachusetts, her home state, but commented on how much better that was than what was happening with the flooding in Australia. One has to wonder if she Ms. Kerekes would have a) known about the floods and b) cared about it before her sudden fame and trip to Australia.
If you’d like to know more about Ms. Kerekes and her trip to The Ashes, visit her on twitter.