Viral marketing is something I’ve heard of before, usually in the context of neat little sponsored online games, or more recently in the form of things like I Love Bees, an alternate-reality game made as a promotion to the forthcoming Xbox game, Halo2 (which I know jbc will be waiting in line for). The idea is to make something that people naturally forward around to each other, usually with email subject lines like “this is 2 kewl!!!”.
But this little gem really brought it home for me. The inimitable somethingawful.com, unending source of subversive online humor, recently posted hank-makes-it-flat.com as their “awful link of the day”, an honor reserved for the worst of teen fan pages, goth poetry blogs, and shameless fetishist webrings. And it falls right into that mold: a guy obsessed with flattening shit. But check the registration information for the domain name and you’ll find it belongs to Digital Oxygen Inc. which specializes in various forms of online marketing including creation and seeding of viral marketing campaigns. This probably explains why Hank makes it a point to mention in a few places on his page how cool (and flat!) his new Motorola RAZR cellphone is.
Score one for Motorola — somethingawful just got played. To quote now-dead web comic Leisuretown:
“All that cutesy-clever uNdERgrOuNd-type bullshit you’re into? Fun stuff that nobody knows about? Stuff that’s ‘sacred’ to you? We stuck it there.”
(Apparently this kind of thing is actually called stealth marketing, which is kinda more disturbing even.)