Don’t these people have something better to do (for you)?
A State Police bomb squad officer in Somerville removed a device from a McGrath Highway column on Wednesday. (CJ Gunther / European Pressphoto Agency)
Viral Marketing. It’s become the topic of the week (“it’s HOT!”), what with the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” (or, for those in the know, ATHF) debacle in Boston. In case you hadn’t heard, New York-based marketing firm Interference, Inc.—known for their guerrilla marketing efforts—placed a number of electronic boards (similar to the classic children’s toy Light Brite) featuring characters from Cartoon Network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” in so-called strategic places around the city to create a viral buzz about the show. Apparently a subway worker, not quite clear on the concept, mistook the “electronic device” for a bomb. Long story short, a large part of the city of Boston and its public transportation system were shut down while authorities “defused” the suspect devices.
Two weeks ago, in a parallel universe, 22-year old design student Todd Vanderlin “had just left Lucky’s lounge in South Boston when he spotted what looked like an alien glowing on the side of a bridge. He pulled out his digital camera, photographed the illuminated plastic figure, and posted the images on his blog,” so says boston.com.
Yeah, that’s right: two weeks ago.
Now, there’s no telling if the Lite-Brite-like thing in the subway was there for the two weeks (or longer?) that the one Mr. Vanderlin saw was, but you’ve got to wonder if the folks who identified the item in question as an explosive devise are really on their game and even on the lookout for real threats in a “post-9/11 world.” Oh yeah, did you hear that Boston was only one of ten—yep, count ’em—ten cities targeted in this campaign?
But back to the marketing. There are many questions we can ask about and—I’m guessing here—things we can learn about this real-world tragicomedy.
The news sites are talking about the legality of the [fill in the blank: “hoax,” “prank,” “stunt,” “misadventure,” etc], while the blogosphere and other (perhaps more thoughtful) media have delved into the deeper ethical questions. (Thursday’s Talk of the Nation committed considerable time to the topic.)
One thing’s for sure if you’re following any of this on the Web: there is a wide generation gap between the ages that see this endeavor as a kind of advertising message and those that see it as a threat. Duck and cover anyone?
Meanwhile, as they wait for their stories to unfold, the two “artists” who take responsibility for placing the devices in Boston can thankfully find some humor in the gravity of the situation they’re now in: During their arraignment they reportedly had difficulty keeping straight faces when Assistant Attorney General John Grossman described the items at the root of the mayhem as “bomb-like devices.” (They pleaded not guilty to charges of “placing a hoax device in a way that causes panic and disorderly conduct.”)
Good luck to them.
Meanwhile, we wholeheartedly engage in discourse about the unintended results of this unconventional type of marketing campaign and continue to poke around the edges of the discussion about original ways to market in a world that absorbs everything and changes by the nano-second.
Oh yeah, and in the category of “there’s no such thing as bad PR,” the current Ebay bid for one of those Lite-Brite things: $3,150.
Eagle Creek, a market leader in adventure travel gear, has hired Circumerro Creative Group to design and develop their new web site. While further establishing Eagle Creek as experts with strong insight into the specialized needs of the action-oriented traveler, the site will showcase Eagle Creek’s unique products in order to help customers make informed and successful buying decisions. Eagle Creek is a maker of adventure travel gear, everyday bags, and packing solutions for active, adventurous souls.
Founded in 1975, the California-based company has been on the forefront of the adventure travel gear category for decades, from introducing the industry’s first convertible backpack on wheels, to more recently revolutionizing the way travelers pack with Pack-it folders, cubes, sacs and toiletry kit organizing system. Circumerro Creative Group is a division of Circumerro Incorporated, based in Jackson, Wyoming. The Group specializes in concept-driven, functional and integrated design solutions.
Circumerro Incorporated was once solely thought of as a travel and real estate guide publisher or as a cutting-edge design group or as a stock photography. Rarely was it thought of as a source of all three. Until Now.
With a recent move into the “little cabin” on the corner of Millward and Gill Avenue and the 10th anniversary of its inception, Circumerro Incorporated is reinventing itself, emphasizing that it specializes in more than just attractive and informative visitor and real estate guides. “We have really evolved,” said President Latham Jenkins. “Innovation comes to mind. We want to better communicate that the marketplace may utilize our three services.”
Circumerro prides itself on the ability to serve the unique needs of this mountain town and resort destination. The group publishes print guides and companion Web sites for select travel destinations around the country, including Jackson Hole Rendezvous and West Yellowstone Vacation Planner. Print guides feature beautiful imagery and are packed with helpful local information, including insider tips on where to dine, weather, geology and attractions. Web sites utilize the latest technology to make the experience visitor-friendly and memorable, including video, virtual tours and interactive maps.
The company also publishes real estate guides targeting resort markets. Jackson Hole HomeReview is one such product, focusing on an upscale audience and affluent buyers looking to invest in vacation, second-home or retirement properties. With HomeReview, available in a print edition and via the Internet, buyers can explore a range of options through one consolidated and independent source.
But that’s just part of the company’s core business. Its expertise in publishing led to the inception of Circumerro Creative Group, a full-service design studio that specializes in Web design, print brochures, branding and marketing. “There is a much stronger movement to the Web,” Jenkins said. “Sometimes a Web site can sell far better than print. We emphasize helping companies stand out in the marketplace, whatever the medium.”
As clients’ needs grew, Jenkins realized the need for photo stock to accompany products and allow Circumerro to serve clients entirely in-house. The stock collection includes images from local photographers, who Jenkins hopes will be marketed through the agency. We understand the product very well,” he said. “That helps ensure the client will find a great fit for their message versus hiring a company from a large city, which is a disconnect.
Printed on June 22nd, 2005 in the Jackson Hole News & Guide.