Twitter Domain Squatting in the UK


Is the new domain squatting technique to grab a well known brand name and wait for them to come offering cash to give it up? Well, that’s a theory I wanted to look in to after reading Erik J. Heels notes that 93 of the top 100 global brands aren’t in control of their brand names on Twitter

I decided to do some investigating using the UK Superbands list. I picked out the Top 50, worked on the most likely version of their name on Twitter (using the current brand domain name such as for AA).


The result is below and I think we can draw some interesting thoughts from this but no hard conclusions

  • The vast majority of UK brand have no control of their brand name on Twitter. Should they care? I think so but they clearly don’t
  • Only two three brands appear to truly own their Twitter brand in this list – Tate Galleries and BA with the latter being a US owned account BA’s UK arm now has a Twitter feed. The BBC recently claimed theirs hence updated below
  • Though I have listed many that seemingly aren’t under ownership of the brand as having squatter status, that’s no slight against the owners most of who are legit
  • There are clear cases in here of Twitter domain squatting with email addresses should the brand owner be keen to secure the account
  • I’m not implying there is any financial gain for this process – though we have seen that in the past with web domain squatting.
  • Statistically, 94% of UK brands don’t own their Twitter account


In an era where brand is increasingly important, can these household names afford to have their brand “owned” by someone else in the increasingly popular world of Twitter where Word of Mouth rules? Or is Twitter not the place for a brand to engage with it’s customers?

Erik has done a lot more work on this than I have time for but check the list below to see how badly our so called UK top brands fare.


Brand by UK Rank Status on Twitter Comments Squatter Status
Google registered has employees Tweeting under their own name undetermined
Microsoft registered has employees Tweeting under their own name undetermined
Mercedes Benz registered no tweets undetermined
BBC active claimed by BBC – thanks to @RobAshton for update owned
British Airways active The official Twitterstream of British Airways North America. Neville Hobson since pointed me to the UK BA twitterfeed owned
Royal Doulton registered no tweets, no contact details squatter
BMW active Brian M. Westbrook – no relation to BMW squatters
Bosch active no relation to Bosch squatters
Nike active protected updates, suspected squatter based on follower squatters
Sony active protected updates undetermined
Apple active no tweets but has some employees Tweeting under their own name undetermined
Duracell active 2 tweets, suspected squatter squatter
Jaguar active 2 tweets, suspected squatter, protected updates squatter
Coca Cola suspended suspended due to strange activity squatter
AA registered TheAA is registered but not resolving undetermined
Lego active no relation to BMW squatters
Marks and Spencer active no tweets undetermined
Thorntons active no relation to Thorntons chocolatiers squatters
Cadbury active no relation to Cadbury squatter
Hilton active no relation to Hilton squatter
Wedgewood active has Wedgewood background so potentially owned undetermined
Dulux active no relation to Dulux squatter
Guinness active no relation to Guinness squatter
Kellogg’s active no relation to Kellogg's squatter
Dyson active no relation to Dyson squatter
Royal Albert Hall active 1 tweet, undetermined ownership undetermined
Ordnance Survey active no tweets undetermined
Fisher-Price active 3 tweets, all pointing to a fisher-price product undetermined
Encyclopaedia Britannica not registered EncyclopaediaBr is best match and not active available
Michelin registered available from squatter
Fairy registered no relation to Fairy the liquid hand wash company squatter
BP registered Bryan Pendleton - no relation to the oil company squatter
Adidas registered available from squatter
Parker not registered ParkerPens - their official domain - is not registered available
Harrods registered no tweets, no contact details undetermined
Heinz registered no relation to the beans company squatter
Domestos registered no relation to the cleaner though last tweet did say Going to clean my House squatter
Andrex registered no tweets, no contact details undetermined
Dettol registered no tweets, no contact details, 1 follower undetermined
Schweppes registered no relation to the fizzy drinks brand squatter
Monopoly registered no relation to the board game squatter
Sellotape not registered available available
Nescafe registered no tweets, no contact details squatter
Shell registered no relation to the oil company squatter
Robinsons registered no relation to the fruit drinks company squatter
Tate Galleries registered owned by the Tate Galleries brand! owned
Eurostar registered no relation to the train company squatter
Nokia registered no relation to the mobile phone company squatter
Playstation registered available from squatter
Eden Project registered no tweets, no contact details undetermined
Comments (11)

  1. martin says:

    I work for a local authority and our name has been squatted, along with lots of other local london authorities (I checked).

  2. I work for EcoSearch – we are headhunters in the Renewable Energy space and we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve when it comes to online communication.

    We have secured @EcoSearch despite the fact that there is a search engine with the same name. We were very surprised to see that were not tweeting.

  3. Rich says:

    It’s an interesting question  – why does the German auto manufacturer BMW have any more right to the twitter name @BMW than a guy called Brian M. Westbrook – I think it’s a bit unfair to say he’s ‘squatting’.  

    I go by my initials in a few places (though not Twitter) on the web – why should he give that up just so they can sell more cars?

  4. Kat says:

    This is like the "squatting" that happened with domain names back in the day. Unfortunately, it’s a little too much like it.

    As @Rich noted above, assuming that someone is squatting just because they have a Twitter moniker that is the same as a brand name is unfair. They might have a last name the same as the brand name, or initials that render the same. Or, they could simply be a superfan who chose to ID themselves by their obsession.

  5. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    Waterford Wedgwood (without an e) went into administration in early Jan, along with its subsidiary Royal Doulton, so your Wedgewood attribution is likely wrong, and the whole group has more worries that its Twitter ID.

  6. Rich & Kat

    totally agree with you that BMW has no more right to the name and I made it clear in my post that I use squatting here pretty lightly – not suggesting the current owner has any less right at all hence why I said

    "Though I have listed many that seemingly aren’t under ownership of the brand as having squatter status, that’s no slight against the owners most of who are legit "

  7. Alan

    fair point but I could argue that this is the precise time when Waterford Wedgwood should be owning it’s brand to at least keep some control over what is said about it in these difficult times.

    the brand still exists despite their adminstration so I don’t think the attribution is wrong. Adminstration doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the brand and for someone with a heritage like Wedgwood their brand will far outlast our lifetimes I’m sure.


  8. Thomas says:


    A couple of weeks ago I did some musing about what Twitter ought to do in order to address this, before it is forced to by a big multinational demanding it does…

    another case software and law colliding. He says punting his survey.

  9. Rich says:

    Hi Steve – point taken, and rereading your post it is clear that you’re not being judgemental.   I guess ‘squatting’ has certain connotations and is quite an emotive term!


  10. Leisa Glispy says:

    The currently active, Wedgewood (mispelled) and Wedgwood (correctly spelled) Twitter accounts are  Domain Squatters.  We are aware of the issues and are working with our Legal on a Cease & Desist on the users account.  

    The "Real" Waterford and Wedgwood brands are currently pursuing a Social Media Strategy which will include strong community involvement on Twitter.  

    Leisa Glispy

    Director of eCommerce Marketing

    Waterford Wedgwood USA

  11. stevecla01 says:

    Hi Leisa – thanks for reposnding. great to hear you’re actively pursuing a strategy that involves Twitter!


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