Blizzard Are Sly Dogs

4 07 2008

Archangel Tyrael, Diablo II

To promote the newly announced Diablo III, Blizzard have revealed a new pet for people in World of Warcraft. It’s a miniature Archangel Tyrael from Diablo II. Not only will he look cool floating about near players’ avatars, he’s going to be inciting the 11M+ WoW userbase to talk about Diablo III. Very clever bit of marketing there.

Spore Community Generates 375K+ Creatures

19 06 2008


The Creature Editor for Spore was released just over a day ago. EA are following a phenomenally good strategy with this. It has digital distribution and will also have boxed product. It has a free price point plus a paid option that offers more scope for building creatures, allows direct uploads to youtube, and all you have to do to prompt your version to get a copy of a creature is get the png file from Sporepedia.

The community has made a staggering 375,000+ creatures since the editor was released. At peak rates, submissions apparently topped 1000 per minute, and even now about 100 are appearing on Sporepedia a minute. Just like creatures I made in early web games a decade ago, every single one of the creations linked to above is a personal investment by someone in Spore. The full game will cater to all levels of involvement, allowing everything from tinkering with the editor to building a civilisation.

Electronic Arts started saying a while ago that Spore would be more of a franchise than a game, and it seems perfectly crafted to work virally and make money. I would have laughed if, a few years ago, someone had told me something this innovative and well crafted would be coming out of EA.

Marketers Can’t Buy Buzz

6 02 2007

By Abbey Klaassen

Coke almost missed out on its chance to build on organic buzz — something you just can’t buy.

“Buzz belongs to the people,” said’s Jeff Jarvis, who moderated a panel yesterday on the topic of whether brands can get away with buzz marketing in the blogosphere. The panel was part of the Always-On Media conference in Manhattan’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Be more interesting
David Weinberger, co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” said he’s not convinced there is a right way to build buzz, outside of just being interesting. The problem is “marketers generally forget how to be interesting because they’re so interested in shaping messages,” he said, quoting his co-author, Doc Searles: “There’s no market for messaging.” And, Mr. Weinberger added, bad, manipulative buzz could be damaging to a marketer’s brand.

Barry Reicherter, senior VP-director of persuasive technologies at Porter Novelli, lamented that nobody’s figured out how to measure buzz, although his agency takes a look at the net-fluencers, which he estimates is about 5% of the population. And that inability to measure return on investment is one of the reasons why marketers haven’t allocated more resources to social-media activities, said Rick Murray, president of Edelman’s me2revolution practice.

Still, Mr. Murray said social-marketing budgets are dipping into brand-marketing budgets because clients have realized “you can’t buy your way into conversations.” Getting into the conversation takes time and is more of a one-to-one marketing opportunity. He added that Edelman is focused more on monitoring the conversation than measuring the conversation — a qualitative rather than quantitative measure.

Coke almost missed out
Coca-Cola Co. was held up as an example of a marketer almost missing the opportunity to build on organic buzz with the Diet Coke-Mentos YouTube phenomenon. Mr. Murray, who added that he’s got a background in the soda business, said Coke made the mistake of saying “That’s just not our brand, people drink Diet Coke, they don’t play with Diet Coke. … Bottlers would say that’s a great thing, it’s driving per capita consumption and they’re not even drinking it.”

He would have gone to every retailer he knew, set up a cross-promotion with Diet Coke and Mentos, and created a commercial or campaign to run offline as well. “Buzz,” he said, “is actually an outcome and not a strategy.”

Sony’s PSP viral marketing campaign unveiled.

14 12 2006

After bloggers found out that it was in fact Sony who were marketing their PSP through guerilla tactics, SCEA has owned up to the fact that it was behind the promotion; was a marketing campaign fronted as an independent blog, whose authors supposedly had a friend (“Jeremy”) that wanted a PSP for Christmas.

One blog entry read, “…we created this site to spread the luv [sic] to those like j who want a psp! …consider us your own personal psp hype machine, here to help you wage a holiday assault on ur [sic] parents, girl, granny, boss—whoever—so they know what you really want.”

Suspicious net-goers, however, found that the website was registered to a marketing company called Zipatoni, which has offices in St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. The firm was also behind a related YouTube video featuring a guy referred to as “Cousin Pete” who was rapping about the handheld.

Now Sony has amended the site, admitting the true purpose behind the blog:

Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn’t a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.

Sony Computer Entertainment America

YouTube videos related to the campaign have been removed, and comments on the blog have been disabled (although you can currently see the cached website here).

Next-Gen contacted SCEA PR boss David Karraker who answered a couple quick questions. When asked about the magnitude of this PR mishap, he replied, “Buzz and viral marketing is a common practice across the industry. In this instance, SCEA hired an outside agency to create a humorous ‘underground’ PSP site for the holidays. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the site didn’t come across as intended and we have since altered it.”

When confronted about accusations that Sony underestimated gamers’ intelligence with the campaign, he stated, “Sony just released the most advanced console ever developed, so I doubt seriously that anyone would think we are underestimating our consumers’ intelligence. This was simply a marketing idea that was poorly executed.”

Next-Gen also contacted Zipatoni’s Dawn Baskin regarding the website, who said that she was aware of the issue, but added, “At this point, we’re not prepared to comment.”