Tuesday, July 25, 2006

what W stands for (do I have your attention now?)

I’ll admit it, when I first saw it, I did an “Is it real or is it viral” double take. And I’ll even admit that the lack of anything like a logo or a url made me consider the “real” option. Of course, when I googled the words “steven do I have your attention now” and the very first listing was a blog (or, rather, a “blog”) called ThatGirlEmily, I quickly converted to “viral.”

Reading this faux blog is even more evidence of "virality." It reads like an undergrad composition exercise: full of exposition and convenience, but devoid of the spontaneity, passion, and misspellings you would expect from a real on-line diary. (In other words, as a blog, or as advertising, it really sucks.)

Well, I’m not the first to sleuth this hype (shows me for not reading Gawker every day), and I doubt I’ll be the last, but what’s to say, really, after the New York Times has torn the lid off it?

The billboard created interest, and not just from an unfaithful Steven. A booking agent from “Good Morning America” sent an e-mail to Emily inviting her on the show. British Glamour wanted to make her the subject of a feature article.

But when pictures of the billboard proliferated on Gawker, Defamer and other blogs, readers quickly dug in. One fact soon emerged, thanks to camera phone pictures: the billboard was identical to others in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Chicago. Someone else discovered that Emily was keeping a blog, thatgirlemily.blogspot.com, detailing Steven’s infidelities. More digging showed that one Emily blog entry was oddly similar to a synopsis for an episode of “Parco P.I.," a reality show on Court TV.

Another “source” sent an e-mail to Gawker suggesting that Court TV was behind the signs, pointing out that it was a viral marketing campaign to promote one of its programs. Mystery solved.

The bad news for viral marketers who use these kind of devices: executives at Court TV said they did not really want to be discovered so quickly.

I’m sorry, they put up multiples of the billboard in Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Chicago and they’re surprised/disappointed that they were discovered so quickly? Have they not heard of the WORLD WIDE Web over at Court TV?

Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me. Fool yourself: shame.


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