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Marketing With Blog 'Decoys'

I'm really a sucker for marketing stories:)

I got the info on this one from Michael O'Connor Clarke's web site.

Go visit before reading any further.

The message on the entry page is giving an indication that this web site might have been hijacked.

Explore it further --> the thing looks like it's suffering from a bad computer malfunction ... or at least as if a kid with some HTML knowledge had just much too much time.

As Michael explains it best:

"If you're curious enough to dig (or Google) a little deeper, however, it quickly becomes clear that both the site and the hijacking are all part of some elaborate pre-release marketing for the next installment of the X-Box game Halo, from Bungie Studios."

This, however, is not the whole story.

Now jump to

It now seems that the's owner's loving niece set-up a blog in order to help her aunt save her web site before the countdown reaches zero:

"I've been wrestling with the site bug(s?) myself since late last week. I've exhausted every strategy I can think of: scoured my code, ran virus checks, did the whole spyware Spyhunter thing, installed all the browser updates, and then finally just wiped the site and rebuilt it from scratch. Nothing helped."

Clearly a quite well thought out viral campaign that hopes to attract prospects and engage them in a "treasure hunt" through word-of-mouth.

If you take a look at all the comments the web site is getting, they are certainly succeeding.

On the other hand, many people caught on quite fast:

"After reading the source code for the pages, it is obvious this is a hoax and that the site owner or you or whomever have done those things to your own site..."

What I'm wondering is how will this effect sales? Will prospects resent being misslead or not? Have most of them already discovered that this is a "hoax" or not?

Orchestrated viral campaigns can become a very dangerous two-edged sword, especially if taken too far. Just remember the Ford story ...

It can of course go either way. The Subservient Chicken for example was a hugely successful viral campaign ... but it was clearly evident from the start that it's being orchestrated by the company.

In the end, viruses just can't be controlled. Once it's out, it's out of our control.

So, to prevent negative damage to our brand names, let's do our best to show respect for our prospects ...

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