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Sanj points to General Mills which has created Cheerioke, a karaoke site on which people can choose there character, style them, change their physical features then sing along to the provided music and send the thing to a friend. The site promotes the new Yogurt Burst Cheerios and uses Oddcast's virtual host technology.
After receiving an email from Banu Sen of Publicis Net Paris telling us about a viral teaser trailer created to promote a new online game which would feature car maker Renault and that a fake game company and fake website where created and disseminated to bloggers as part of the promotion, a lengthy email exchange with Ben ensued regarding the buzz phrase of the day, transparency. Transparency is the notion that all marketing, especially that which comes through buzz, viral and word of mouth channels, be fully forthcoming with what brand is behind the campaign.
Clearly, with fake company names and websites, this was not transparent. However, during our discussion, in which, at first, I was quite surprised a major agency like Publicis and a major car maker like Renault would engage in fakery such as this given the recent uproar over buzz and word of mouth marketers and their associations calling for transparency, I realized it's really nothing more than your standard teaser campaign which has been around forever. There's a fine line, though, between a teaser campaign and a misleading campaign. The prior always, at some point reveals its identity which this Renault campaign does. The latter, which uses stealth methods like the recent U.S. Cellular blue man fiasco or an army of 250,000 teenagers who may or may not reveal their association with the large word of mouth company for whom they work.
Publicis and Renault has done nothing wrong here. Not that anyone is saying they did. Though in the face of transparency insanity, the discussion was worth having.
Wicked Chops points to a viral campaign for online gambling site Bodog which consists of three outlandish videos involving unlikely wagers all which close with "Thank God There's Football...So We Can Bet On Things That Really Matter"
Here's a little viral micro-promo, called Serenity Now, for the TBS re-run of Seinfeld riffing on the series' use of the term, "serenity now.:
Promoting its new street racing game, LA Rush, Midway Games has launched a viral, called Pimp My PushChair, created by Maverick, which has a couple of "punk-ass motherfucking" street-wise babies bustin' on each other's bling in their tricked-out strollers. Enough said.
To promote its Saturday, Monday and Thursday pullout, Super Goals, The Sun has launched Super Chants, a site where visitors can create custom chants, play them and them send them to a friend. Not bad, if your into the whole soccer...uh..football thing. The site was created by Tequila.
U.K. Channel 4's IdeasFactory, along with viral email collector Bore Me, digital agency DS.Emotion and viral promoter Hot Cherry have announced "Germ," a viral email contest which seeks viral ideas that "get the whole world talking." Oddly, according to contest rules, only U.K. agencies, apparently, are able to get the world talking as U.K.-based agencies are the only agencies welcome to enter the contest. Though, it seems, the "general public" is allowed enter as well. However, it's not clear whether that refers to worldwide general public or U.K.-based general public.
Close-minded contest or not, the winning agency, in an even odder, oxymoronic move is promised by contest organizers to have it's work seen the world over via seeding by Bore Me. In a not so oxymoronic but clandestine promotional move, all of the companies hosting the contest have, surprise, a stake in viral advertising and, with the contest putting them into contact with top viral marketers, the hole thing is basically a new business endeavor for the organizers. Nifty.
Burger King has scored a branding coup. It's Burger "King" has been Farked. After being posted to Fark October 4, there are hundreds of images of the "King" taking on all sorts of personas such as the Army's "I Want You" guy, Bush's Supreme Court pick, Santa, Jesus, Larry King, Colonel Sanders and even Ronald McDonald himself. Not to be one-upped by it all, Crispin Porter + Bogusky is capitalizing on mask mania with the launch of BK Masks, a site where visitors can buy masks of the King himself and the famed Subservient Chicken. Wouldn't it just be sweet for Burger King and CP + B if this actually took off and kids across the country appeared at your doorstep wearing these masks? That would be successful marketing.
Promoting a the Australian men's magazine Explode, Soap Creative has launched a "customize your ride" game, called Bling My Bomb, in which visitors choose their vehicle and customize it selecting color, wheels, graphics, engine, plates, horn, your street scene and yes, the hottie that will ride with you. Sorry, ladies, this one's for the guys. Besides, you probably don't want to visit a site that treats women like hood ornaments. Oh please. After all, it's all just fun and fantasy for single-minded guys. That said, Explode will be happy to know we actually spent a significant amount of time on the site crafting our ride.
As word of mouth marketing spreads, lawyers, who can't keep their hands off anything, are circling the medium questioning its adherence or lack thereof to FTC guidelines. Putting it simply, Reed Smith Chairman of Advertising and Marketing Law Douglas Wood told Ad Age,"If the motivation for [an endorser] is to profit from his or her endorsement, that connection probably needs to be disclosed. But since disclosure undermines the value of buzz marketing, advertisers are in a Catch-22." That simple statement presents a gigantic problem for buzz and word of mouth marketers who, while stating they fully support disclosure, can't avoid the notion true transparency can lessen the effectiveness of this form or marketing.
UPDATE: The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has responded to the Ad Age article in Comments and clarified it's stance on word of mouth marketing on it's own site here.