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April 15, 2003

"performance sneakers" and the sub-viral revolution

We're all over viral marketing. So now there's "sub-viral marketing." Companies take an ad concept that is on-brand but off-color and leak it out anonymously onto the Web. The rougher the take, the bigger the hit. This practice evolved from the DIY hacks of ubiquitous campaigns like Mastercard's "priceless." Yeah, we've all seen those spoofs of someone's party pic with a rude caption.

Where these two trends collide, there is a lot of room for companies to make a big splash for cheap and still defend the chastity of their brands-- "Why, we'd never do that-- shame on you for thinking we would!" The latest, and possibly greatest Brand That Doth Protest Too Much is Puma.

To wit, Rob Walker's SlateAd Report Card on a naughty JPEG that looks awfully well-produced. You can (at the moment) see the ads here, but Puma's lawyers have been sending cease-and-desist letters to bloggers the world round--and funny enough, that means that everybody knows about it now.

The Guardian had this great piece last year on the "sub-viral" phenom; a UK "viral site" features this much more graphic "Levis" add that gives new meaning to "do-it-yourself"--and much, more more content of suspicious provenance.

This is one of the most interesting areas of mutant marketing, and it just goes to show how right Foucault was: the author is dead. But we've all downloaded his latest Photoshop text.

Posted by jay at April 15, 2003 03:07 PM | TrackBack
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