Experimenting With Viral

Colle + McVoy’s John Jarvis says he and his agency weren’t looking for glory or attention when they created howdiditgoin.com, a Web site devoted to outlandish theories on how Tiger Woods sank the incredible chip on the 16th green in this year’s Masters. They just wanted to give viral advertising a try. “We’ve recommended and made suggestions to clients several times to do viral stuff, and no one’s bitten on it,” says Jarvis, CEO and chief creative officer of the Minneapolis agency. “We decided we needed to get some experience.”

Jarvis, copywriter Eric Husband, interactive designer Andy Wright and interactive developer Scott Peterson put together the site, in which a fictional Ph.D. candidate posits 16 videotaped theories, from the obvious (a Caddyshack reference to blowing up the golf course) to the scatological (a boy grunting on a toilet) to the bizarre (a midget blowing steam from his mouth). A couple of veiled e-mails to friends later, and the experiment was off and running. “We learned there are a lot of people from Sweden who are interested in Tiger’s putt,” Jarvis says. “I can’t tell you how many e-mails we got from Sweden.” The blogosphere loved the site, too. Most observers, including a blogger writing in our pages last week, figured the site was a creation of Wieden + Kennedy, as the Nike swoosh is clearly visible on the ball as it drops into the cup. “It doesn’t bother us at all” that Wieden is getting credit, Jarvis says. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s questionable how long the site will remain available. “We didn’t do it for any commercial gain,” Jarvis says. “[But] we’ll take any cease-and-desist order we get seriously.”

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