AOL has hired Ashton Kutcher and his production company, Katalyst, to develop several planted characters who will work their way into AOL's AIM community. The characters, each part five separate projects, will "appear" in 20 episodic storylines which, yes, will be sponsored by advertisers. Katalyst Partner Jason Goldberg says he hopes to create the first Internet star. Of course, star, is a reletive term but we think Goldberg might be too young to have remember one of the first stars of the Internet, the I Kiss You Mahir guy who did his thing back in 1999 or so. OK, so we're talking a vastly different caliber of "star" here but it's not like this effort will be the first time an given entity has risen to fame. That said, if these characters can inject a bit of humor into our day, we might be able to deal with the goons that incessantly IM us.
Creature of culture, Bucky Turco sent along this U.S. Army banner and noted its edgy but odd message. The banner reads, "Use Your Arabic to Help Build Your Future." Of course, innocently, that just means, "hey, one who speaks Arabic, consider joining the Army." Not so innocently, it might mean, "Hey one who speaks Arabic, consider joining the Army and let us use your language skills to hunt down and kill those Arab fuckers." Take your pick but we're sure both notions passed through the minds of those behind this recruitment effort. See the full banner here.
To promote the 2006 Football (soccer) World Cup, Nike has launched a campaign called Play Beautiful which consists of eight serialized videos, the first showing a ficticious cause group, headed by real-life, legendary footballer Eric Cantona, taking over a television station to deliver the group's message of encouragement. In the first video, Cantona says "we've let liars and cheaters make a fool of the game" and that he is here to "remind the world that this game is about skill, heart, honor, joy, team spirit." He urges us to make the game beautiful again. As football-clueless Americans, we never would have know the game had a problem in the first place so we'll take his word for it.
Future videos will also feature Cantona along with other current footballers. The video was produced by Wieden & Kennedy and F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, who handle work for Nike in Brazil, created the site.
ad:tech, which hosts three major national online marketing conferences, is launching a new conference series called IMPACT, a ten city, one day show kicking off February, 28 in Seattle then moving on to Phoenix, LA, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Toronto, Cincinnati and ending with Fort Lauderdale April, 6. The shows, as does the three big shows, will focus on all thing online marketing from planning to buying to analytics to search engine marketing to campaign optimization to ad formats to blogging to consumer generated media to behavioral marketing.
The day's events will consist of keynotes, separate tracks with sessions of differing topics, presentations from service providers/vendors, mini expo session where attendees can explore exhibitor offerings and an ad:tech Connect LIVE! Session, an interactive Q & A jam session. We'll be attending the Seattle and Boston events.
Pharmca, maker of all manner of anti-germ serums is promoting its line of germ killers with a microsite called Cubicle Cooties. The site explains the nastiness that lives within your cube as well as neighboring nastiness and how all that nastiness can be prevented by using one of five Pharmca germ-killing agents. The site's got pictures, a store locater, an image upload thingy where you can upload images of your "favorite cubicle cootie fighting efforts," a form to turn your disgustingly germ-infested cube mates in to your boss and, oh yes, a send to a friend feature.
To promote the new, first person shooter EA game, Black, Freestyle has launched My Black Valentine. Stereotypical connotations of the word "black" and "shoot" aside, the microsite helps those who are without love during Valentine's day get their anger out by shooting things. It's simple enough, fun for a few minutes and you can send it to a friend which, by current definition, makes it a viral. At least that's what Freestyle says.
The Wall Street Journal reports Time Inc. has plans to launch a Web site called Office Pirates in the next few weeks which will target young male's hoping to make up for poor ad-page performance at the company's men's titles. The idea behind Office Pirates is to rebirth an era "that once allowed Wall Street's bawdy and frat-boy humor to spread quickly among financial institutions."
No one at Time Inc is talking about the site and former Maxim magazine editor Mark Golin who is behind Office Pirates has refused requests for interview hoping, as the Wall Street Journal surmises, the site takes on a non-promotional "fucked company"-like aura and grows organically. The Sports Illustrated sales team is said to handle ad sales for the site which is hoping for sponsorship sales rather than banner sales.
With the tagline "live green, go yellow" GM, today, has painted the homepage of the New York Post's online site along with other sites such as the Austin American-Statesman yellow to promote the company's E85 ethanol-fueled vehicles of which there are already 1.5 million on the road. The vehicles can run on either gasoline or the new E85 fuel. E85 fuel is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and is made from U.S.-grown corn and other grains. The company will introduce and promote more E85-capable vehicles mid-2006.
The yellow takeover and the ads point to a live green go yellow microsite where visitors can find out about the fuel's benefits, how it's made, what vehicles will run on it, play a Stalk Car Race game, see the TV and print ads and get live green go yellow goodies.
Old Spice has created a site called When She's Hot that lets visitors mix their own video using supplied images, clips, beats and scratches. Of course, Old Spice being a men's product, the video clips are filled with shots of a well-bootied woman shaking her ass in slo-mo as well as a "director's cut" that's got all the ubiquitous "too hot for TV" boob shots, butt grabs and gyrating "do me" hip thrusts.
For those of you from the cassette tape days, you might find this Valentine's Day card from Exopolis a little bit of fun. Back in the day, kids placed their cassette tape recorders next to their clock radios to record their favorite songs while playing DJ making cheesy mix tapes for their friends. Exopolis has taken that practice digital providing a cassette tape juke box of sorts with classics like Hall & Oates' Kiss on my List and our fave, The Divynls' I Touch Myself.