You can't buy publicity like this, but you can make the most of it.
Actor Alec Baldwin says he was kicked off a plane Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport after refusing to stop playing Zynga's Scrabble-like "Words With Friends."
The 53-year-old "30 Rock" star, a prolific Twitter user, took to the microblogging service to complain: "Flight attendant on American [Airlines] reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving." He described the game, the company's sixth-most-popular, as "addicting."
Zynga, which plans to sell shares in an initial public offering next week, promptly took to Twitter with Baldwin's cause, introducing the hashtag #LetAlecPlay. (Here's one of the company's more, erm, graphic offerings.)
"This is phenomenal for Zynga," Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Bloomberg. "The problem for Zynga with investors has been that the average portfolio manager doesn't relate to their games. This definitely helps change their perception."
Fellow passenger Michael J. Wolf, the founder of the technology firm Activate, Tweeted: "On an AA flight at LAX. Alec Baldwin removed from the plane. We had to go back to the gate. Terrible that everyone had to wait."
Baldwin, who was headed to New York City, eventually got on a later flight and vowed it would be his last flight with American—despite the fact, he Tweeted, that the airline shows "30 Rock" inflight.
"United Airlines should buy Words With Friends," suggested Baldwin via Tweet.
"He loves 'Words With Friends' so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it," Baldwin's spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told the Associated Press. The actor was playing it on his iPad as the plane idled at the gate. An American Airlines spokesman declined to comment, citing customer privacy. The airline's official Twitter account told customers repeatedly: "Our flight attendants were following federal safety procedures on electronic devices when aircraft door is closed."
Baldwin also used Twitter to mock American Airlines, which filed last month for bankruptcy protection. The beleaguered airline, he said, is "where Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950's find jobs as flight attendants." Other tweets carried the hashtag #theresalwaysunited.
United's official Twitter feed had no comment. Its most recent Tweet: "Have you seen #TheDescendants? Enter our giveaway to win a trip to Hawaii where the movie was filmed."
Image credit: iStock