Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Viral attack ads

It looks like Chevrolet's attempt at viral marketing is giving the automaker a headache...and maybe a case of the sniffles too.

As reported by NYTimes.com, Chevrolet introduced a Web site a couple weeks ago that lets visitors "take existing video clips and music, insert their own words and create a customized 30-second commercial for the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe."

Most likely, the company hoped people would create some fun videos and e-mail them around the Web, "generating interest for the Tahoe through what is known as viral marketing." That part of the plan apparently worked. There was just one problem: the Tahoe videos getting the most attention, and the widest distribution, are ones that diss the SUV.

For example, one ad that shows the Tahoe being driven through a sweeping desert landscape says, "Our planet's oil is almost gone...you don't need G.P.S. to see where this road leads." Another shows the SUV tooling down a country road lined with sunflower fields, jaunty music playing in the background, then white lettering appears on the screen: "$70 to fill up the tank, which will last less than 400 miles. Chevy Tahoe."

Ouch! The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

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