Photographing American Consumerism

Chris Jordan "looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books."

Some of his works are now exhibited in Second Life: SL URL, more info, Flickr screengrabs.
-- thank you, Francis

Screenshots: Advertising on Joost

There have been quite a few articles discussing ad opportunities that Joost will offer -- in AdAge and Wired a few months back and now in NY Times and elsewhere as Joost announced the first batch of 30 advertisers joining the three-month test. I haven't seen any screenshots, though, so I thought I'd take some of my own (Hill Holliday blog).

Joost's Advertising Model
Joost Runs on Apple TV

Opinion: E-Books Will Fail

Computerworld: "There is one unavoidable and fatal fact that will kill the nascent e-book market in its cradle: People love paper books.

So many predictions about the future have failed because futurists tend to overemphasize the possible over the desirable. They give too much weight to technology and not enough to human nature."

NY Times on Tom Sawyer Effect

New York Times blog writes about the Tom Sawyer metaphor of "user-generated content": "Tom Sawyer, metaphor of the digital age? Or cliché? Whichever, Mark Twain’s 19th-century sprite is being name-checked a lot lately as a handy way to describe the Internet vogue du jour: exploiting free labor and content online."

Dead Goat At Sony's Game Party

source: Daily Mail

Daily Mail: "Electronics giant Sony has sparked a major row over animal cruelty and the ethics of the computer industry by using a freshly slaughtered goat to promote a violent video game.

The corpse of the decapitated animal was the centrepiece of a party to celebrate the launch of the God Of War II game for the company’s PlayStation 2 console.

At the event, guests competed to see who could eat the most offal – procured elsewhere and intended to resemble the goat’s intestines – from its stomach."

The game is rated "Mature".

Mattel Launches Barbie Girls

Mattel launched Barbie Girls, a "virtual world" that "will allow children to create their own virtual characters, design their own room and try on clothes at a cyber mall." (Forbes.) In the same article, a company exec is quoted saying it's "the first global online virtual world exclusively for girls". The cool part is that "the doll-inspired handheld portable device will be available in July at an expected retail cost of $59.99. It is designed to unlock even more content and activities on, like adopting a virtual pet and buying clothes using virtual money."

I barely squeezed in for a moment (the site was so overcrowded it wasn't accepting new people all morning). The experience is pretty straightforward; it's somewhere in the neighborhood of Kaneva, Coke Studios and Virtual Laguna Beach but more pink. A few interesting things I noticed:

The virtual town has a cinema that among other Barbie-related things plays spots for Mattel's products.

And you get virtual bucks for watching the spots. The B Bucks can be spent on furniture for your room, accessories, outfits -- that kind of stuff.

Apparently, other Mattel products have promo codes that you can enter to unlock more content.

Reenacting Coprorate Slogans

Think big. Think outside the bun. Come out and play. Researchers at the Institute for Infinitely Small Things suggest "how one might go about performing corporate commands as literally as possible." How can one Think Different?

- Train your thoughts to flow backwards
- attempt to use adverbs appropriately
- consciously freeassociate until mental paralysis

Friday Special: The Inherent Poetry of Advertising

Behavioral Targeting in Second Life

Sebastian from the German Inworld Advertising Network sends in a tip about Future Ad Park (SL URL) they have set up "to demonstrate behavioral targeting capabilities". Their blog post explains: "Depending on the interest-profile of an avatar, ads are replaced immediately on billboards to deliver a personalized and relevant advertisement. The interest-profile is not only determined on the basis of where an avatar sojourns, but also combined with inquiries-data to make a prediction what he is really interested in."

Second Life is probably the closest we are to the Minority Report kind of billboards that address you by name. I've already posted about SL billboards that look for keywords in the user chatter and display appropriate ads. You can also mine other user data for targeting purposes -- name, of course, age of account (this is already being done by in-world businesses), favorites, and perhaps clothing and attachments the avatar is wearing.

This also explains why I'm posting so much about Second Life and in-game advertising: I think these environments are the testing ground for the things to come in real life.

On a related note, Austin American-Statesman interviews Joel Greenberg, a former senior planner at GSD&M (partner of MIT C3) and now VP of marketing innovation at Electric Sheep, a company behind much of the corporate presence in SL. In the interview, Joel describes what a good SL ad network could look like:

"What we are going to do is, we are going to give ad units for free. Give ad units to people to put wherever they want, and we are going to share their ad revenue with them. So it could be a poster on a wall, [...] maybe a billboard outside, maybe a button somewhere. It may be a coaster on a wall. It may be sandwich boards on their body [...]. And people will be able to place ads in the network. The advertisers will be able to choose their criteria and where they want to place it. And the publishers will be able to say there are the things I'm accepting. Just like in a regular ad network.

We will allow anyone to be a publisher, whether they are a ("Second Life") landowner, or a store owner or just an avatar in-world who doesn't own land, they can still be a publisher. They can wear it. Maybe they want to put it on their hat; they can hold it. "

Ad Network to Place Billboards in Second Life
Contextual Advertising in Second Life
MetaAdverse, In-Game Advertising Agency

Bus Shelter Ad Connects People

Bus shelters in several Canadian cities were equipped with built-in two-way radios "that connect commuters between different cities, in real time, with just a push of a button." Am flying to Toronto next Friday, drop me a line if you know where to find one to test and report back.
-- core77

Update [Apr 27 2007] Nevermind. Apparently, this campaign is from last year.

Force-Feedback TV

"The so-called 3D broadcasting is so simple in concept it's surprising it hasn't happened before - take key moments from a TV show and send a simultaneous signal to make the phone vibrate. The examples given by LG include a thud as a ball hits the back of the net in football or an in-hand rumble to match whatever onscreen violence is unfolding."
-- via textually

IVR Usability, Hacks, Games

For some reason, I was looking up some info on IVR (interactive voice response) usability today, and thought I'd share some links:

IVR usability principles: be brief, prioritize, kill feature-creep, avoid long pauses, more. Also, IVR bloopers.

Design, testing and consulting:

Interactive Fiction by Phone
Play Text Games With Voice on Phone
Cursing As Shortcut Through IVRs
Duh: Mobile Phones Are Voice-Centric Media
Voice Analyzer Detects Lies over Phone

Ad Network to Place Billboards in Second Life

"AMPP [Media] completed a deal with Second Life publisher Linden Labs and is ironing out the logistics to sell ads in Second Life, where digital ads will appear as outdoor placements in the virtual world."
-- ClickZ via Metaversed

Here's a demo of what the billboards will look like.

This is the Evolution video by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.

A demo of various available formats.

Contextual Advertising in Second Life
MetaAdverse, In-Game Advertising Agency

Business Week: The Future is 3D

Business Week in The Coming Virtual Web article: "The Internet of the future, and the vast wealth of information and services on it, will look different: slicker, more realistic, more interactive and social than anything we experience today through the Web browser. "Three-dimensional virtual worlds will, in the near future, be pervasive interfaces for the Internet," says Bob Moore, a sociologist who studies virtual worlds at Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, the legendary Xerox lab in Silicon Valley."

Other quotes:

"In contrast to the Web, where there's almost no assumption of a human heartbeat behind the Web page, virtual worlds are inherently social settings."

"'What missing from online shopping is the social and recreational experience,' says PARC's Moore. 'That's exactly what you get with virtual-world shopping.'"

"Avatars could be made much more expressive by mapping people's real facial expressions and body language onto them in virtual meetings."

I think it's a good time to plug my presentation from a while back on the real ROI of Second Life. It's not the press, not the stunts, it's insights into how consumers manipulate 3D interfaces, behave in the overtly social environments and interact with virtual objects.

" As more real-world brands are venturing into Second Life, it becomes increasingly harder to gain publicity by merely opening a location inside the world. When American Apparel opened its SL store last June, the news was all over the press. Six months later, many similar undertakings are recorded only by the most dedicated observers and hard core bloggers. The world of hype is moving to the next big thing.At the same time, Second Life is yet to become a suitable environment for meaningful e-commerce. The platform is unstable, and while the total population has doubled to 1.6 million from September to November, the number of simultaneous users has rarely, if at all, crossed the 20,000 mark, and the amount of time people spent in Second Life over the same period rose 29 percent, writes Reuters.

Despite the hoopla about the first Second Life millionaire, only 58 residents earned more than $5,000 in November -- a respectable number for a “game” but not the kind of market that would show up on many executive radars just yet (the numbers again are according to Reuters that has an in-world reporter).

So if it’s not about fame and if it’s not about money, why bother at all? The answer is knowledge.

Some experts predict that in the fairly near future at least part of the Internet will turn 3-D with online destinations either adopting some form of 3-D interface or expanding into the existing virtual environments ( is one of the blogs tracking the signs of change). The argument goes that the companies that are playing inside Second Life and similar worlds today will be better prepared for tomorrow.

Besides, virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular are proprietary, walled and self-contained gardens where the entire user cycle from shopping to private instant messaging can be monitored in great detail. In a sense, it’s like the Big Brother -- the show is currently running in Second Life too -- and it’s you who could be watching.

Here are some of the aspects of user behavior that are hard to study in the traditional web environment but that are perfectly observable in Second Life:

1. Socialization on both macro- and micro-levels. You can study the relationships between individuals and the dynamics of larger groups. Since Second Life allows cross-gender avatars (a real-life guy can play as a woman in SL, and many who do say it’s a lot of fun), a researcher can also find out how social expectations associated with a particular role influence behavior and consumption choices of individuals.

2. Interaction with 3-D objects. Manipulating three-dimensional spaces on a flat monitor is far from trivial. Observing how people navigate the space and interact with virtual merchandise will provide valuable usability clues for building your own 3-D e-commerce site one day. Amazon is already taking notes.

3. Consumption. Record how your customers see your ads, from what distance, under what angle, and for how long. Track the entire life span of a product from the time it leaves your store to the instance when it is unwrapped, tried on, worn, and given away or resold. If this sounds improbable, consider that “Procter & Gamble has created a new research facility which uses computer-generated imagery to re-create shops” (source).

4. Production. A small company called Fabjectory uses a $20,000 ZPrinter 310 Plus fabricator to manufacture real objects that were first “drawn” in Second Life. These objects may be small and crude, but if you are excited about the revolutionary power of desktop publishing today, wait till you wake up to the realities of desktop manufacturing."

Future: Internet in 2016 Is 3D

Study: Low Awareness of Brands in Second Life

source: CB News / Reperes

A March 2007 study of 1,085 Second Life avatars by CB News / Reperes found that "brands are still far from having succeeded in exploiting all of their SL potential. For instance no RL brand introduced in SL has succeeded in establishing a strong presence in the minds of residents." The graph above demonstrates the failure of brands to build strong "spontaneous" (unaided?) awareness. K Zero comments that these low levels, especially for the brands with longer history of SL presence, may be due to the high avatar turnover and the influx of the new residents.

The good news: "66% [of the residents] believe that the presence of RL brands has a positive impact on SL", which contradicts an earlier study by Komjuniti that showed that "72% of respondents [...] as being disappointed with the activities of the companies in Second Life."

A similar report by Market Truths shows that 49% percent of residents think that brand presence in SL is a good thing. Surprisingly, however, "of the 21 brands ultimately named (unaided), four do not actually have an official SL presence. They are, however, still getting positive brand impact from their “unofficial” (or perceived) presence." (quoted from SL Communicators).

But do check out the entire report by Reperes -- it has some interesting resident insights about specific campaigns.

[Update a few hours later] Ha, another study on Second Life: The latest poll by Global Market Insite, "found the virtual world of Second Life is a burgeoning market for real-life brands and product promotion. Fifty-six percent of users believe Second Life is a good promotional vehicle. Only 16 percent say they would not be more likely to buy or use a brand that is represented in the Internet-based virtual world."

Importantly although not surprisingly, " 55 percent watch less television since becoming active in Second Life." (press release)

Forrester Segments Social Computing Behaviors

source: Forrester

This very interesting report by Forrester analyzes the levels of user participations in social structures online (see an earlier post on a similar report by Hitwise and the Yahoo pyramid):

"Forrester categorizes social computing behaviors into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term "Social Technographics" to describe analyzing a population according to its participation in these levels."

Geminoid: Human-Like Android

Hiroshi Ishiguro, a robotics expert from the Intelligent Robotics Lab in Japan, has unveiled Geminoid, "a humanoid robot designed in his creator's image, down to the tiniest of details."
-- daily mail

Advertising on Tissues

source: AdPack USA

Having caught some Boston cold, I'm going through my 4th box of Kleenex tissues, and it occurred to me it's a perfectly contextual ad medium. The tissue sheets on the top could have some benign messages: bless you, get well. The mid-tier would promote nasal drops and cough syrup. The last few sheets could push life insurance. Call it progressive contextual advertising.

Of course, there's a company, AdPack, that already puts ad messages on tissues. Apparently, the medium is big in Japan and has its own wiki entry.

Gartner: 80% of Internet Users in Virtual Worlds by 2011

A press release that's too vague about the details and too optimistic about the numbers:

"By the end of 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a “second life,” but not necessarily in Second Life, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner’s advice to enterprise clients is that this is a trend that they should investigate and experiment with, but limit substantial financial investments until the environments stabilize and mature.

“The collaborative and community-related aspects of these environments will dominate in the future, and significant transaction-based commercial opportunities will be limited to niche areas, which have yet to be clearly identified,” said Steve Prentice, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, the majority of active Internet users and major enterprises will find value in participating in this area in the coming years.”

Wonder how they came up with the 80% number. The press release also offers five "laws" for corporations entering virtual worlds.

Weird Technology Mascots

A gallery of weird technology mascots on Wired includes Adobe's Jester, Microsoft's Clippy,'s Jeeves, and Apple's dogcow (above) back from 1983 that was designed to show proper paper orientation.

If you are into ad mascots, TV Acres has lots of information on a wide variety of different ones. There will be an entire Icon Advertising Museum opening in Kansas next year, too.

Interactive Outdoor Ad Plays Games

An interactive bus shelter touch-screen installation for Nokia's phone lets people play the tile matching game. More details and a video on Wired.

Beam of Sound Promotes Murder Book

Boston Globe on how advertisers use audio spotlight device: "Court TV recently installed the audio spotlight in ceilings of bookstores to promote the network's new murder-mystery show. A voice, whispering, "Hey, you, can you hear me? Do you ever think about murder?" was beamed toward customers as they browsed the mystery section in several independent bookstores in New York."

Mind Control: HyperSonic Sound
Hypersonic Sound Laser For Sale on eBay

Cuban: Innovation Will Be Televized

Marc Cuban: "Remember when you would buy a new PC every couple years to keep up and you would buy a new TV every decade ? Well thats about to reverse itself. You no longer feel the need to get the latest and greatest desktop PC, but you are about to get in the habit of upgrading your TV every couple years as new and original features and applications are developed for it."

Whitewashing the Web: Reputation Defender

Business Week in its Web Attack article about negative word of mouth mentions a damage control company called Reputation Defender. From their site:

"First, we SEARCH. Next, we DESTROY. Our trained and expert online reputation advocates use an array of proprietary techniques developed in-house to correct and/or completely remove the selected unwanted content from the web. This is an arduous and labor-intensive task, but we take the job seriously so you can sleep better at night. "

Very reasonably priced: $30 a frag (killing and item of online content). Some insight into their methods: by Auto Admit who say they were approached by reputation advocates, and on Consumerist.

A Bottle of New Car Scent

One of the new cool things I picked up from the Brand Sense book I finally got to read is the story about how auto manufacturers spray new cars with that famous new car smell that works as an olfactory signature of sorts. Apparently, you can buy the stuff by the bottle, too, although it's not brand-specific. A few related links:

Smelly Packaging Encourages Impulse Purchase
Marketers Should Create Multisensory Campaigns
Smelly Postage Stamps
Hasbro Bottles Play-Doh Fragrance
Smelltone Ringtone
Movie Screening to Be Enhanced With Scents
WSJ to Offer Smelly Ads
Flashback: Perfumed Ink for Smelly Ads

Random Fans of Brands

A few recently added samples from my collection of brand (anti-) fandoms:

-- Mac Hearts PC
-- Crocs Shoes Fans.
-- IKEA Sucks and IKEAphobia the Movie, and of course OhIKEA on the other end of the love-hate spectrum

Spiderman 3 in Google Earth

A Google Earth layer (.kmz) with a collection of Spiderman 3 locations in Google Earth created to promote the upcoming movie, plus movie billboards. See if you can take a better screengrab of the Spiderman (there are a few scattered around the town but are tricky to photograph). More details on Google Earth Blog.

Future: Ringtone Spam

"Emotive's flagship product, the patent-pending "Push Ringer", reverses the common ringtone model. It enables a caller to push an outgoing ringtone to the receiving phone allowing the caller, not the called person, to set the tone. The chosen Ringer is transmitted to the recipient's handset and temporarily overrides the phone's pre-set ringer. The ringers can comprise audio, video, animations, avatars or flash files." Fortunately, only works on 3G, 4G and VoIP services.
-- press release


Ringtone Advertising - Check
Smelltone Ringtone
Ringtone Kiosk
Personal Audio Avatar
Sonic Branding

Edible Nutrition Facts

SciFi Tech: "Art and design team Andrew Andrew hired a company that specializes in printing edible photographs (and company logos) onto cookies to put accurate nutrition labels onto the cookies themselves."


How Google Ranks Blog Posts

ProBlogger: "Google determines a quality score for every blog post you write based on more factors that most of us have ever really understood." Some of the factors:

1. Feed readership as measured by extrapolating Google Reader subscriptions
2. Click-throughs on search results in Blog Search
3. Presence on high-quality blogrolls
4. Inbound social bookmarks
5. Personal conversations (gmail, chat) ?

On a weakly related note, Google says it will introduce online presentation software to complement its Spreadsheets and Docs. Won't it be cool to be able to create slideshows that could then be incorporated into Google Widget Ads? Well, maybe not cool, but definitely easier than doing video ads.

Why Blog Feed Readers Unsubscribe

Mining Gamers' Behavior

Business Week writes about how "predictive analytics allow publishers to analyze and build a profile for each player—allowing for highly targeted marketing."

"By using the combination of statistics and data mining, predictive analytics provides an automated way to process and make predictions from the mounds of data collected, which typically can include hundreds to thousands of attributes per gamer: session activity, purchases, downloads, titles played, number of friends, genre preferences, and the list of data points goes on."

Wonder what kind of conclusions you can draw from someone's in-game behavior: playing style, chat utterings, cooperation with other players, cheating.

Contextual Advertising in Second Life

Billboards that listen to the conversations of people in their vicinity and displaying all the ads that fit to show, now in Second Life:

"A ContextAds board listens to the conversations of those avatars around it, displaying advertisements when certain keywords are mentioned. Advertisers can bid on keywords, with their account only being charged when their ads are actually shown. Avatars can click on advertisements of interest to them, and can be offered a website, or a teleport to an in-world location."

Not a new idea at its core -- Google shows contextual ads in GMail and there were rumors that MSN messenger was displaying ads based on what chatters typed in -- but I love the Second Life context.

New World Notes has a video. I don't know if the VW Tuareg billboard is spec work or was actually commissioned by the company (probably the former).

Earlier and in real life:
MINI Tests Personalized Billboards
Google Eyes Contextual Billboards
Billboards With Face Recognition from Microsoft
AdAge on Contextual Billboards (with more links to relevant posts)

Study: Content Creators Are Few

source: elatable

This is the famous Yahoo! Pyramid that represents "phases of value creation" at Yahoo! Groups as outlined a year ago by Bradley Horowitz, the company's head of technology development.
A new study by Hitwise apparently suggests that the number of generators of user-generated content is even smaller:

"A tiny 0.16 percent of visits to Google's top video-sharing site, YouTube, are by users seeking to upload video for others to watch, according to a study of online surfing data by Bill Tancer, an analyst with Web audience measurement firm Hitwise. Similarly, only two-tenths of one percent of visits to Flickr, a popular photo-editing site owned by Yahoo Inc., are to upload new photos, the Hitwise study found."
-- reuters via psfk

One caveat: that's percentage of visits (uniques?), not percentage of users. Anyway, to shamelessly quote myself, "the bigger force is not consumer-generated content, it's consumer-edited content."

Hardware Store as Contest Prize

The April issue of MediaPost's Media Magazine has an article (free reg.) about a contest by Ace Hardware with a prize that's as unusual as it is exciting: a one million dollar hardware store in Houston, TX:

"In an effort to make an impact with an advertising budget far smaller than what the big-box retailers spend, Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware execs created a “once in a lifetime” contest linked to the company’s entrepreneurial philosophy. “[Dream Ace] is for all those who have always wanted to own their own business, but life always seemed to get in the way,” says Paula Erickson, director of advertising and brand development."

The winner Gower Talley with "The Apprentice I" winner Bill Rancic.

Check out the official contest rules: the participants had to write three short essays, take a "sales aptitude test", go to a bootcamp, submit a marketing plan, among other things. Pretty serious stuff.

Why Blog Feed Readers Unsubscribe

The top five reasons why people unsubscribe from blog feeds out of 34 identified by ProBlogger:
  • Too many posts (the post levels are too overwhelming)
  • Infrequent Posting (or the blog is effectively dead)
  • Partial Excerpts Feeds
  • Blog Changes Focus (too much off topic posting)
  • Too many posts that I see elsewhere (redundant, repeated or recycled news)
-- via Mark Goren

Sim Game Teaches TV Ad Planning

TV Station Manager is an indie game of the simulation / tycoon genre that puts you in the shoes of, surprise, a TV station manager. Wonder if it can be used for training; will run it by the agency's media guys to see how accurate it is. From the game description:

"In this game, you'll take the role of a new manager, just graduated, which is appointed by an almost bankrupt TV Station, hoping that you'll be able to fix the situation and maybe even raise the TV Channel popularity.

The day starts at 5:00 pm and ends at midnight. You don't have to necessarily fill all the slots: by default the TV management will put some minor show/ads, you need to decide only the most important ones.

You'll have to choose which ads to show during a particular show. Some ads are just geared towards a generic audience, so the only important thing will be the attendance, while other ads might require a particular kind of audience, so are more difficult to put. Each ads has also a number of time to be shown, and a deadline."

Wonder if after having played this game with some success and getting the sense of the business constraints, people will be more tolerant of the real TV ads.

-- via gamesetwatch

Endemol Takes Its Shows To 3D

Apparently inspired by the successes of MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach and its own Big Brother show set in Second Life, Endemol is teaming up with EA to build Virtual Me ( redirects to EA press room), a virtual world that will allow "avatars to compete in online versions of Deal or No Deal, Fame Academy and Big Brother." Coming soon.
-- BBC. Screens and press release on

Study: In-Game Ad Spend $295M This Year

More datapoints from the eMarketer study: "eMarketer projects that $295 million of the 2007 total will be spent on in-game advertising and that spending on advergaming (the creation of games for the purpose of promoting a brand) will reach $207 million. By 2011, the balance between the two will have shifted significantly. US spending on advergaming will climb to $344 million in 2011, but US spending on in-game advertising will climb faster, reaching a total of $625 million that year."
-- press release

Offtopic: Gallery of Light

Enjoying a few spare hours on my first trip to New Orleans, wondered off to the French Quarter and stumbled upon this amazing Gallery of Light.

More Refreshments for Gamers

Woosung Ahn writes in response to the Mountain Dew for Gamers post to point out two similar tie-ins between Pringles, Coke and Lineage 2, a popular MMORPG, done a few years ago in Korea. Of course, there was another famous collaborationg between Coke and World of Warcraft in China that among other things resulted in this ad and this launch event (and a site that seems dead now).

NY Times on Collective Preferences

NY Times on the network effect: "Conventional marketing wisdom holds that predicting success in cultural markets is mostly a matter of anticipating the preferences of the millions of individual people who participate in them. The common-sense view, however, makes a big assumption: that when people make decisions about what they like, they do so independently of one another. But people almost never make decisions independently — in part because the world abounds with so many choices that we have little hope of ever finding what we want on our own; in part because we are never really sure what we want anyway; and in part because what we often want is not so much to experience the “best” of everything as it is to experience the same things as other people and thereby also experience the benefits of sharing."

The author is a professor of sociology at Columbia Uni and has written a book called Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age.

-- thank you, Mark.

Million Axe Home Page

I was wondering if a big brand would ever tap into the (now fading) popularity of the Million Dollar Home Page. Axe just did, in Brazil. It's apparently part of a larger campaign that involves a webcam stripper on YouTube (NSFW and in Portuguese), a phone number, an answering machine, and one other site that isn't yet live.
-- thank you, Gisele

Million Dollar Building
Million Dollar Peepshow

The Future According to Intel

A YouTube video by Intel showing the company's vision of the future: interconnected devices with voice recognition and sleek interfaces. (via Engadget).

Outdoor Ad Collects Feedback

A case of life imitating Second Life: "GB Glace (?) have a few high tech posters in Sweden's major cities that double as consumer surveys. On the posters you can vote for your favorite new ice-cream, just by touching them." More details and close-ups on Ad Rag. In Second Life, posters in the Sears and Circuit City builds solicit visitor feedback.

Mountain Dew for Gamers

image source

Not quite the reverse product placement, but a nice way not only to promote a game, but also to market a drink for the gamers demo. It's a Mountain Dew limited edition with Halo 3 imagery on the label. More on AdAge and Kotaku.

Update [Apr 16 2007] More modern product tie-ins.

Reverse Product Placement in Games
Fictional Brands Coming to Life

Website Made on a Top of a Fridge

Miranda July promotes her new book with a website written on a top of her fridge. She then switches to the gas stove.

Future: Internet in 2016 Is 3D

CNet on the upcoming report from the Metaverse Roadmap: "Within 10 years, the report suggests, people may wear glasses that record everything around them. They will likely see little distinction between their real-world social lives and their interactions in digital, 3D virtual worlds. And they'll increasingly turn to services like an enhanced Google Earth that are able to present data on what's happening anywhere, at any time, as it unfolds." Also see an older CNet article on the topic.

Polaroid and Word of Mouth

My friend Rekha told me about this optical shop up at Harvard Square called Eye Q Optical. They recognize that choosing the right frames can be a difficult job. They do a smart thing. They take a Polaroid snapshot of you with the glasses on so that you can show it to your friends and see what they think. Word of mouth by design.

I've always loved the Polaroid experience and how instant printing changes the entire routine and protocols of picture taking. It's a great marketing tool, too, whose novelty is based on its obsolescence. Polaroids have been used in bar promos forever, the company's site even has a Diageo case study about it. The company also sells branded instant film, in case you are interested.

There's also this Polaroid iZone camera that prints stamp-sized pictures that can be used as stickers. The iZone camera itself has been a show piece of viral marketing and is featured in a couple of books: The Art of Innovation by IDEO's Tom Kelley and The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rozen.

This Brazilian promo has been making rounds for the past month or so: Polaroids were placed in bathrooms instead of mirrors to reinforce the company's "instant images" positioning. Not unlike this photobooth that shoots scalps and dandruff.

Speaking of the word of mouth, I've just finished reading Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk about Your Stuff that the author, Mark Hughes, had kindly sent to me. He was the one who had masterminded the renaming of Halfway, Oregon into, so besides all the good advice it contains, you are treated to a behind-the-scenes story. The book has received glowing reviews all around and was named one of the best biz books by Financial Times back in 2005 when it came out. Many popular business books today are more like over-extended magazine articles. Buzzmarketing isn't one of them: for your $15 and a few hours invested into reading it, you'll get lots of stories from across many different industries and a lot of conclusions to draw.

Finally, if the Nor'easter (?) subsides, I'll be in New Orleans for the next couple of days for a WOMMA event. Looks like it's going to be fun. Say hi if you are there.

Flash Support by Email Clients

source: campaign monitor

What support? Was looking for something else and stumbled across these test results from 2006; doubt things have changed a lot since then.

Webby Nominees for Interactive Advertising

Lot's of good ideas and executions at this year's Webby nominations for interactive advertising, including the Fedex "Just in Time" clock.

Game Promo Uses Camera, "Ghosted" Film

It's one of those campaigns I wish I'd thought of first: a promo for a PlayStation 2 game "Forbidden Siren 2" last year in Germany during a game con. They have created branded snapshot cameras loaded with ghosts on a pre-exposed film that appeared on the printed pictures given away to visitors. More pictures at I Believe in Advertising (and so do I).

How to Kill Google

Paul Briant at the Reluctant Blogger came up with a doomsday scenario: if Microsoft upgraded Windows (or perhaps IE) with a text-ad-blocking feature turned on by default, it would be the end of Google as we know it. Unlikely for a variety of reasons, but not impossible, considering that a pop-up killer is a standard option on most browsers now, and that there's third-party software that zaps AdWords as well. Also see the comments on 25hoursaday: "The outrage from Google would be tame compared to how pissed off all the companies that depend on AdSense and Adwords would be." It would also put the anti-MS and pro-Goo crowd in a peculiar position of having to turn the adblocker off to spite Microsoft.

Automatic Commercial Skipping
How Geeks Block Ads
Set-top Box Blocks Ads
Commentary: Philips's Ad-Skipping Blocker Good Idea
NY Times on Anti-Ad-Skipping Patent by Philips
Firefox Users Click Less, Kill Ads

Start Your Own Ad Agency

Start your own advertising agency with a set of expandable toy cubicles and life-like plastic figures. Pitches, meetings, brainstorms -- now all on your desk in a labyrinth of cubes, decorated with special stickers. On Amazon, and also on the maker's site.