Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Incident Placement Is the New Marketing Buzz

As a long-time Mac user, I’ve always noticed how many MacBook Pros show up in the films I see – many more than market share would explain. No doubt Apple has been paying for that product placement. In the viral marketing era, however, a mere glimpse at product falls short.

To promote their movie, “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” Twentieth Century Fox hired an L.A. high school valedictorian to create an “incident” during the graduation ceremony. At the end of her valedictory address, M.I.T.-bound Kenya Meija shouted to her boyfriend, “I love you, Jake Minor.” She got $1,800 for creating publicity for the film. FilmJunk reported that the effort (and the movie) bombed, but "incident marketing" looks like a new social-reality-media trend.

In late July, Proctor & Gamble hosted the Swiffer SocialLuxeLounge at the BlogHer 2009 conference in Chicago. In addition to comfort-station amenities like cell-phone chargers, attendees were invited to dress up like Lucille Ball or Marge Simpson and try out the new Swiffer mop. This effort reportedly paid off in viral tweets, Facebook posts, and Flickr uploads.

Expect lots more paid “incidents” as marketers figure out new and ever more dramatic schemes to shock the market into alert. Also expect a fair number of these efforts to backfire. Today's sophisticated (jaundiced?) marketplace appreciates a clever bamboozle, as long as the trick is on somebody else.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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