New mobile service provider Helio, with help from StreetVirus and Alt Terrain, has launched an influencer marketing campaign consisting of in-venue pop up stores, a print magazine, a blog and sponsorship of local artists. The in-venue stores include a mini-lounge and employees are given Helio phones. Each store receives free ad space in the Helio magazine and become an exclusive retailer of the devices.
The artists sponsorship provides artists with hard-to-come by public mural space to showcase their work, financial support for their gallery shows, exposure in the Helio blog and the print magazine that is nationally distributed, and artists are provided a Helio phone of their choice. For a new company without a lot of money and one whose services appeal to the social networking needs of tweens, teens and twenty-somethings, Helio has headed in the right direction with this influencer marketing approach. You can see some of the artist's work here.
We just don't have the time to read all these faux/character blogs that brands seem to think people will find really cool but Shannon over at glossy doesn't like this one from Bacardi called Better Than Beer. There's a lot of weird stuff on the site including videos of a guy biking into a banner for no apparent reason, and old lady in a hair salon and a three breasted woman. The blog is written by "Dave" who says Bacardi keeps his fridge stocked with Bacardi Mixx as payment to write about his life. And yes, the whole thing is to promote Bacardi Mixx.
As part of promoting the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Project D.U., an AT&T blogger-powered portal and branded RSS reader, is hosting a blogging contest that awards the winner a free press pass and pass for a guest to the three day event. Held in an area where WiFi is not available, AT&T will provide service, finally lending, perhaps, some truth to those Blogging Delivered outdoor boards that ran a while ago. Any music blogger that isn't already part of the Project D.U. network of bloggers can submit writing samples to be considered here.
Commercial Alert has sent emails to 305 book review editors asking them not to review a teen book called Cathy's Book because it will contain product placement from Procter & Gamble Cover Girl products. There's always a mixed feeling about this. One the one hand, completely eradicating brand names from everything makes it seem as though one is living in an artificially fake world. On the other hand, reading a book is supposed to do just that - whisk one away from the stress of the real world and provide a temporary sanctuary from it all. It's a tough call. What do you think? Commercial Alert's letter is below.
Anheuser-Busch is getting its ass kicked by World Cup Football fans who are calling the company's sponsorship of the event offensive and overbearing. Yes, $40 million for pouring rights will certainly put the "watered-down beer" as Nuremberg graduate student Heiko Hofrickter called it in front of many who feel the American presence at the World Cup is mostly uncalled for since Americans think football is a game that involves grown men donning giant shoulder pads and crashing into one another while watching a pop star bare her breast during half time. Oh wait, they do that in Europe too. The baring of breasts that is.
While many Europeans are angered over the proliferation of American marketing in their back yards, its the crappy taste of Budweiser that really has people steamed. Hofrichter, while consuming a glass of Weissbier, summed it up saying, "We don't make anything that you can compare it to. We just don't make that kind of beer. Why would we, when you can drink this?"
With video the online advertising meme du jour, ad network Bluelithium has launched AdRoll, a streaming video ad network with behavioral targeting capabilities. Much like Tacoda does with banners across its network of sites, AdRoll will allow advertisers to serve video ads, both pre-roll and in-banner, based on a person's navigation behavior across all the sites in the Bluelithium network, of which there are over 1,000 according to the company. The targeting capabilities will also include demographics and geography. If you've got video, it seems bluelithium has the right place to put it.
- Artie Lange's promoting his upcoming movie with a NSFW pinball game which is actually kinda fun.
- Just as marketers are beginning to spread their seed all over MySpace, Thought of A Technocrat analyzes MySpace Bulletins and reminds us it can be a very seedy place indeed.
- HBO is promoting the last season of Deadwood with an online virtual poker saloon and game called Dead Man's Hand.
AdJab calls to our attention the stupidity of some of the latest work from Mike's Hard Lemonade which involves a guy holding a bottle in front of the camera and making it talk. With the word "hard" in the name, there's far better things they could have done than this.
- Once again, IKEA has taken its retail locations directly to people, this time dressing up trains as if they were one's living room.
In a newsflash of epic proportion, Copyranter reports online dating site True has placed an ad on the Internet that, stunningly, does not show a woman wearing a bikini.
That Sasquatch just won't die. This time, he's alive and well for a Jack Link's Beef Jerky campaign that involves four TV spots, and online site and...please tell us this is going to stop soon...a MySpace profile.
To call attention to the upcoming Word of Mouth Marketing event June 20-21 at the Hilton San Fransisco, coBrandiT, independently and without association with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, has mixed an old interview of Bob Garfield with some new comments he made about word of mouth marketing. The result is a humorous collection of babble. By the way, Bob was in on the joke just so you all don't think we're trashin' here.
UPDATE: The video has been removed. WOMMA was none too pleased. CoBrandit accommodated.
UPDATE II: See our ever so apologetic apology to Bob Garfield here,
Harvard University Pd.D. Candidate and all around spyware expert Ben Edelman has, once again, dug deep into the shady, clandestine side of online marketing. This time, he's examined Hula Direct, which, he claims, serves pops from spyware vendors, practices "banner farming," shows and charges ads without permission and engages in automatic page reloading to increase revenue. Since Ben's a Ph.D and we're not, we'll let you examine his findings first hand here.
As a tidbit of the insanity going on here and who's involved, this bit of Ben's article lends insight. "Hula's Yield Manager relationship provided Hula with the Vonage ad shown in the example above. Hula's Global-Store sent traffic to Yield Manager which sent traffic to Traffic Marketplace, which sent traffic to aQuantive's Atlas DMT, which sent traffic to Vonage. Payments flowed in the opposite direction." Certainly the notion of "you get what you pay for" takes on a whole new meaning here. Suffice to say, there's a whole lot of scamming going on and, to be clear, advertisers like Vonage rarely know it's occurring under their noses. Ben's analysis should be required reading for anyone even remotely involved with online marketing.