Rob Walker’s nihilist marketing strategy

Marketing writer Rob Walker used to send out an entertaining, sporadic e-mail newsletter called "The Journal of Murketing," chronicling interesting intersections of marketing and culture before it went on hiatus a few months back in part so that Walker, who pens a column for The New York Times Magazine called "Consumed," could promote his new book, Letter from New Orleans. Murketing subscribers on Monday were treated to a "Journal of Murketing Hiatus Extension Phantom Special" detailing an ingenious new publicity plan for the book. Here’s an extended quote, since the e-mail isn’t on the Web anywhere and it’s entertaining enough to read the whole thing:

"There is no street team. There is no snipe campaign. Key influencers are not even identified, let alone courted and ‘seeded’ with product. The hottest DJs have not been hired, because exclusive parties will not be thrown. A secret, mobile pop-up store will not be moving from location to location in America’s hottest neighborhoods. Nothing will be distributed via ‘goody bag,’ and no one associated with Vice will be brought aboard to reveal what the cool people think. The folks who make a living posting fake messages on Internet chat rooms will, for this project, post nothing. Hot graf artists will contribute no murals, no stickers, no stencils. There is no podcast, no blog, and no word of mouth (‘organic’ or otherwise). Everywhere you turn your eyes and ears—everywhere—you’ll be totally surrounded by the absence of the brand."

Perhaps marketers everywhere will pick up on this new form of nihilist marketing? We doubt it, and Walker does too: "Am I worried about others copying our unique Phantom Marketing tactics? No. Because executing a campaign like this one is incredibly expensive."

—Posted by Mae Anderson