Words of Mouth with Friends


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Alec Baldwin’s recent run-in with an American Airline flight attendant triggered one immediate need as I read of the unfolding events live on Twitter: I must learn more about Words with Friends!

For those who have been in quarantine or off the grid, here is the super-condensed version: Baldwin got in trouble for playing the game Words with Friends while his plane sat delayed on the runway. A disagreement ensued (tweeted live) and before the star of “30 Rock” was forced off the flight, I had already looked the game up and was schooled in how it works. (Turns out, it’s a lot like Scrabble.)

The next night, my husband asked it the entire event might have been a planned publicity stunt for Words with Friends, whose online game creator, Zynga, is preparing an initial public offering. I doubt it, but as many experts are now saying, it sure isn’t hurting the brand.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Bloomberg News the incident was “phenomenal” for Zynga, which is the biggest maker of games for Facebook, including FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

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“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,” he said.

It is fitting that a company whose domain is social media is getting such a boost, albeit unwittingly, through the powerful tool of social media. This is one more example of why even the most benign public statements should not be taken for granted. While the conflict may cause some short-term publicity problems for Baldwin, his loquacious thumbs put the words “Words with Friends” on the lips of many fans.

Today, Words with Friends is Zynga’s sixth most popular game. Let’s see where it ranks in a few days.


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