Advertising people have long been derided as snake-oil salesmen. Nick Bergus, a writer, multimedia producer and teacher from Iowa, pitched a very different substance to glide into his 15 minutes of fame. The product: a 55-gallon drum of Passion Natural water-based lubricant, available on Amazon for $1,495 with "reasonable" shipping of $20.95. Bergus says he was amused by the offer and posted it on Facebook, adding the copy, "For Valentine’s Day. And every day. For the rest of your life." Soon, his "ad," which was never intended as such, began appearing as a sponsored story in friends' newsfeeds—"meaning Amazon is paying Facebook to highlight my link to a giant tub of personal lubricant," Bergus explains on his blog. Some commenters suggest that with his social-media savvy and creative bent, Bergus knew (or at least hoped) his post would gain sponsored-ad status and help him generate some personal buzz. He hasn't exactly complained about the situation, and he's made quippy Internet in-jokes on the subject with tweets like, "Can you imagine what would have happened if I'd posted the link to the 55-gallon drum of lube on Google+? No one would have seen it." Yup, Google+ is a ghost town—penetrating insight, ace. In a broader sense, his intention is irrelevant. The episode serves notice that to grease the wheels of e-commerce, just about any connection can serve as a come-on and any conversation converted into an ad. Not so long ago, this would have been cause for concern. For now, the vast majority of us have chosen to let it slide.
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