Making Viral Ads for Companies Who Don’t Need (or Possibly Want) Them

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PSFK pointed us over to an interesting piece on the NY Times’ Consumating columnist Rob Walker‘s blog about user-generated advertising. But more specifically, about the odd phenomenon that are the user-generated ads for the Apple iPhone, something that he, as well as well, feel doesn’t really need this sort of tacky Web 2.0 marketing buzz (“tacky” and all that follows are our words, not his). He did some looking into the ads, finding they are being produced for a contest held by a company called ViralMedium and wrote this:

It’s not clear whether ViralMedium was hired by Apple to do this, or is simply jumping onto the iPhone bandwagon to promote itself. In any case, I suspect that anybody taking the time to make a home-brew iPhone ad basically recognizes that the product is going to be a big deal, swathed in hype and attention — and they want in on that. It’s a way to participate in what will probably qualify as at least a low-grade cultural phenomenon, so that when people get around to searching for all things related to the iPhone, these grass-roots ads will be among those things. If one of them is good, it’ll get forwarded around, and the creator will become Internet-famous at the very least. My guess, in other words, is that this is not about evangelizing for Apple’s brand. It’s about leeching off of Apple’s brand.