Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Viral marketing gone wrong

The social internet has emerged as an ideal ground for marketing. People enjoy spreading news and in the internet meme spreading sometimes resembles a viral infection propagating throughout the network.
Some companies like Google have made their success on this type of word-of-mouth marketing. If you can get a good fraction of the social internet to be attached to your products in such a way that they want to tell their friends all about it , you don't have to spend money in marketing campaigns.
The important point here is that a fraction of people must be engaged in the meme, they must find it so cool and interesting that they just have to go and tell their friends and infect them with the enthusiasm. How do you do this ? That's the hard part I guess.
So, the marketing geniuses of Chevrolet decided that they would try their hands at viral marketing. To get people engaged they decided to have the masses build the ads. We usually like what we build and we want to show it to our friends, so the idea actually does not sound so bad right ?! :) well , this would have been a fantastic marketing idea, if most people actually had good things to say about the product.

Here is an example of the videos coming out from the campaign:

I worried before that this type of marketing could be a negative consequence of science communication online but these examples just show that directing attention alone is not enough, people will judge what they find and are free to criticize.