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peer exposure

2001-07-17 20:37:37+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

The other day I was walking with Phil to lunch. I tend to be a much more aggressive pedestrian than Phil, so there were a few instances where I stepped off a curb, Phil hesitated, and then, even though I'd looked both ways, I stopped too. It was an interesting example of trusting the perceptions of others over my own. Advertisers are taking advantage of this effect, the New York Times notes that The Secret Agents of Capitalism Are All Around Us.

As it has become ever harder to reach people between the ages of 12 and 34, advertisers have pushed viral marketing entirely underground, pitching them on the sly and hoping that the message takes and spreads, viruslike, with none of the intended marks knowing the better. This might mean leaving cigarette packs in bars, as tobacco companies have done, or loaning automobiles to ''key influencers,'' as Ford did in 1999, when it placed the Ford Focus with 120 people in five major markets. Or it might mean hiring some of Big Fat's 50 operatives in 30 cities to drink vodka and water at trendy bars.

[ related topics: Consumerism and advertising ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: Larry Burton

After thinking about this, I can't find a thing wrong with the tactics.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: sethg

A while back, I wrote an SF story in which the McGuffin was a brain implant that turned its wearer into a walking advertisement -- at random intervals, in the middle of some social interaction, the wearer would extol the virtues of some product that the implant was sponsored by.

I'd better rewrite that story and send it out soon, before reality catches up with it.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: Dan Lyke

I don't find anything wrong with it either, I just think it's something that's fun to be aware of. I think Salon had a similar article a year or three ago on the same topic.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: petronius

Two points: In college Sociology class one student studied jaywalking behavior in Downtown chicago, where everybody crosses against the light. She noticed that older people would stop at the curb, look at the Don't Walk signal, then the traffic, then if clear begin to walk. Younger people looked first at the traffic, then the signal befor jaywalking. She also noticed that in a crown somebody would always begin to cross first. In her experiment, her stooge would boldly begin to walk, then suddenly stop as if he saw a big truck. The whole curbside would follow him and then stop as he did,even if there were no visible traffic. The professor gave her an A.

Point 2: Before the first war "rumor agencies" were operating in major US cities to spread disinformation about your competitor's products. On payment of a fee, they would send pairs of loudmouths out to frequent saloons and trolley stops and hold loud conversations. After an afternoon of mentioning how your competitor's tainted sausages had killed 6 people and an Irishman, sales would begin to fall. The extension of the libel laws finally put an end to these businesses. The best underground dismarketing campaign? George Washington Armstrong (I think)was hired by the tuna packers to ruin the competition. His tuna slogan "Guaranteed Not to turn Pink in the Can!" set salmon sales back for a decade.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: TC

Dan, I am suprised you allow your "lizard" brain to overide your frontal lobe as you know Phil has a more limited peripheral vision and will be more cautious. Instincts are might powerful stuff... I wonder if I can get a kick back from Palm after promoting the PalmV to all my friends?