I have written about "Stealth Marketing" in which marketers attempt to embed their messages in "buzz" channels such as blogs (see "Buzz 'n Blogs -- Stealth Marketing").
Today I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a related form of marketing, which I will call "Anonymous Marketing." The article, "Where Did That Video Spoofing Gore's Film Come From?", talks about an amateurish-looking video available on youtube.com.
First, take a look at the video (click on the arrowhead):
As is pointed out in the WSJ article, "The video's maker is listed as 'Toutsmith,' a 29-year-old who identifies himself as being from Beverly Hills in an Internet profile." Toutsmith would not tell the WSJ who he was or why he made the video, which is very suspicious because any amateur hoping to become a professional would welcome his or her 15 minutes of fame in the Wall Street Journal!
Turns out that Toutsmith sent his email to WSJ from a computer registered to DCI Group, a Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm whose clients include oil company Exxon Mobil Corp.
How stupid are these guys? [That's what you get for hiring amateurs.]
Anyhow, the video received a low rating of two stars from 327 people and has only been viewed about 59,000 times on youtube.com, which is a site to which anybody can upload videos. And, as you can see, I can embed these videos in my blog. This is great viral marketing and I suspect between being featured here and in the WSJ, the Exxon anti-Gore video will get a lot more views. But, will it's rating score increase and will it get sent around the Net?
In contrast, here's the official, non-anonymous video called "Al Gore's Terrifying Message" produced by Paramount Classics, the distributor of Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" and created by by cartoonist Matt Groening of Simpsons fame.
This non-anonymous video has been viewed 1,048,352 times and has received a 4.5-star rating (out of 5) from 5352 people! More importantly, there are 29,000 links to the video (compared to a few hundred for the penguin Al Gore).
Using Amateur-Looking Web Videos to Market Products
I can see PhRMA producing and uploading to youtube.com an amateur-looking video about the terrorist threat of drug importation. After all, it tried to commission a novel on that subject (see "PhRMA's Terrorist Plot"). I am sure that for $100,000 it can produce a video on a par with the Al Gore/penguin video.
It's one thing to produce a video like these for political purposes or to promote TV programs or films, but what about to promote products?
Ogilvy & Mather, according to the WSJ, says it plans to post amateur-looking videos on Web sites to spark word-of-mouth buzz about Foster's beer.
Will there be anonymous videos about prescription drugs?
As it turns out, there may already be such videos on youtube.com. Here's a couple of Viagra videos that I originally saw on Peter Rost's blog:
Did Pfizer have anything to do with these videos? I don't know, but if it did the effort was hardly worth it -- the videos have only been viewed about 1,000 times each.
Which only goes to prove you are nobody until somebody in the press writes about you, demonstrating once again the power of PR!