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weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Thursday, May 27, 2004
The ongoing story of a web-based marketing campaign. American readers may have noticed a magazine supplement entitled Men of Metal, apparently given out free with a bunch of glossy titles. This 'extract', an intriguing sub-chapter in the Mini Cooper robot saga, isn't being distributed here in the UK. Even so, it was quickly decoded and the scam-like nature of the contents revealed (giant robots secretly developed from Mini Coopers by a reclusive scientist, etc., etc.).

Given that this meme has been bouncing around for several months, Men of Metal seems to be over-egging the pudding. That it was treated with any seriousness at all is a blow for the globalising power of the internet – surely the buzz that the original movies generated would have killed the idea of this ‘book’ stone dead? Clearly not, if the slightly lax attention to detail of Mini's American marketing machine is anything to go by. How else could you get away with calling Oxford a ‘remote area of England’? The agency responsible is Crispin Porter + Bogusky (apt name, that), who describe themselves as a 'factory that makes advertising and branded creative content'.

The question is just how far can an agency go to create a buzz? How subversive can a viral campaign be? Getting a campaign talked about on weblogs and bulletin boards is all very well, but hardly a result that would justify a whoppy agency fee. The real benefit surely comes when the 'scam' is revealed by a major media outlet and commentators can revel in its cleverness. Awards inevitably follow. But the idea of sowing the seeds of an outlandish concept, then just sitting back to watch it grow has far more mileage. How many of today's memes originate on an ad agency's whiteboards? For Mini, some enterprising person/ad agency employee even posted to cryptozoology.com (if anything they were too sceptical). If that was all the agency had done, the robot rumours would have seeped slowly, inexorably into popular myth. In the future, will we learn to question everything, fearful that any interesting rumour is simply a way of preparing our brain for a new, exciting product?

Some additional speculation and analysis posits that the campaign may be aligned with the forthcoming Transformers movie, based on the Hasbro toys. Transformers are currently undergoing a bit of a revival, with a recently released video game, for example, so perhaps Mini's product will feature heavily in the movie. Thanks to 2walls webzine for bringing all this up again.

Elsewhere. The art of the Japanese postcard, via joshua's del.icio.us (formerly muxway) / mp3s at 3hive / Work-safe art / the Cartoonist's Dinky toy catalogues have been expanded again / a supposedly fun thing that Simon Schama appears to have actually quite enjoyed (thanks to tmn) - a cruise on the QM2.

Blinding Nerve Pain is a weblog devoted to sciatica pain relief – a weblog as therapy. It provides some choice picks, including Telephone Collectors International, Along Your Way: Facts about stations and scenes on the Santa Fe, 1946, a gallery of Radiolarians, and implosionworld, movies and galleries of controlled demolitions.

Lesbian paperbacks at Strange Sisters (via Coudal). You can also check out the rare books collection at Mount Saint Vincent University, which ‘includes the largest holding of lesbian pulp fiction of any university in North America.’ Indeed. A short history of ‘lesbian pulps’ here. While we’re looking at pulpy things, some sci-fi covers and a collection of bad girls.

A bit more about Cryptids at Cryptodominion / Dance Hall Manuals at the Library of Congress's American Memory collection (via The Rambler). Great images: The PREFACE to all Lovers of Musick and Dancing / beautifully observed photography at grand magasin and la forme d'une ville.