“It’s hard to be a marketer out here. The kids with their Internets and their rock’n'roll and their Tamagotchis. How do you reach them? Can we put something on their I-Pods? We should do what Apple does with their I-Tunes store and make money. So does anyone have any ideas about how we can connect with the kids? Phil? Do you have a Web 2.0 idea?”
“Thanks, Jim. You see, I hear there’s this Olympic thing coming up this year. You know, the sexy summer one with the sand volleyball babes and not the bundled-up boring winter one. Let’s send out boxes of Olympics-related garbage as part of an alternate-reality game and then they’ll talk about us on the Internet.”
Unfortunately, it’s true. The worldwide Olympics marketing machine is slowly lurching to life, starting with the poisonous exhaust fumes known as viral marketing. Viral marketing - now more infectious than ever!
The game now has a functional Web site, complete with the YouTubery and the amnesia and the blogging and the hacky references to Greek gods that momentarily justify the classic languages minor that Phil from Marketing suffered through at UC-Santa Cruz.
No one is quite sure yet what this particular ‘game’ is selling, but it doesn’t terribly matter. There will be another one next week and an undercover tester at the bar next month with “Five Rings Vodka”, flavored like the sweat of your soon-to-be-favorite athlete that you’ll forget by October 1.
By the time the Olympics arrive, you will be ringed out by the constant battering of the ring-related marketing from your television, computer, newspaper, billboards, radio, county fair giveaways, CIA implant, and tiny inscriptions on your Xanax that you won’t want to watch the Olympics at all.
Then NBC will scratch its collective head at the low ratings out of Beijing, blame it on the time zone differences and the Internet, and put Bob Costas back into cold storage for football season. (He fits in a large Tupperware bowl, so there’s no concern about freezer burn.)