When it comes to contagious media, there are a lot of exceptions to marketing norms and assumptions. Peretti says that when he launched “Black People Love Us,” a spoof of awkward white people who celebrate their black friends through pictures on a clunky Web site, he expected it to be popular among hipsters who got the joke. What he didn’t expect was that the site would become popular on forums for white supremacists, where people were upset about the white couple making friends with blacks.
The article is concerned with the Contagious Media showdown, a contest to create a website and popularize it in 22 days. The winners were a combination of creepy and hilarious that treaded the fine line between spoof and believability. The overall winner was the ingenious Forget-Me-Not panties, with embedded GPS technology to track the women in your life. Another favourite was the weird Crying While Eating.
The column is pretty focused on the awards, as it doesn’t address all of the possible tactics and permutations of viral marketing (such as real world word of mouth, buzz marketing, etc). I was also perplexed why the writer seemed to actively avoid the term ‘meme’, despite its apparent appropriateness. I emailed him and asked. Here’s his reply (posted with his permission):
I noticed that after the fact when reading people’s
comments. I can’t entirely say why, but in my mind,
the term is associated with dot-com boom times and
Wired mag and I’ve really grown tired of it. But
that’s just me. I actually prefer “contagious media”
We didn’t really debate the point, but I disagree with him. Obviously, the term meme dates from 1976, so I don’t associate it strongly with the dot-com boom. More importantly, the term ‘contagious media’ seems to obfuscate the meaning, what with ‘media’ being such a generic word.