Answering my own questions since 2001

The Marketing Folly of GreenTeaGirlie

A couple of weeks ago, a new video shot to the top of the ‘most viewed’ list on YouTube (boy, we’re a bit YouTube heavy around here, aren’t we?). It was ten seconds in length and was utterly benign. In other words, it was just like the other zillion young talking heads in front of a webcam. Why, then, did this young woman named Kallie (with a YouTube account called GreenTeaGirlie) garner 268,653 views (according to Utility Belt, who otherwise misses the point, the video got about 215,000 views in the first two days)?

View spam. Unethical marketers, presumably with green tea to promote, apparently used auto-refresh software and fake accounts to ratchet up the number of views and subscribers. As always happens, the YouTube community detected this bold and ill-advised deception, and piled in with a schwack of nasty comments. Here’s a quick sampling:

Viral marketing sucks. So why make the whole YouTube community go mad over this?

OMG OMG! You are like the Mostest AWESOMENEST ever! I am going to call all the TV stations and newspapers in my area and let them know of this AMAZING discovery!!

i hate you already.

You get the idea. Kallie replied with a pretty vague, denial-free follow-up. If she wasn’t, in fact, a marketing shill, I would have expected some moral indignation.

No one has owned up to this particular campaign. About ten days after the fiasco, Dragonwater Tea Co. registered the domain www.greenteagirlie.com. I suspect this is just opportunism. The folks behind this project are clearly dimwitted, but you’d hope they’d register associated domain names before launching.

The situation presents an interesting conundrum for the marketers behind the project. On the one hand, their original plan backfired gloriously. On the other hand, they have the attention of about 250,000 people, which doesn’t come cheap. Is there a way for them to come clean, apologize, save a little face and still come out ahead? Maybe they should post an apology video, and send free green tea to the first 10,000 YouTubers who comment on it? Or, as James suggested when we were chatting about this, they could use the opportunity to crowdsource their next marketing campaign so they don’t mess up again.

It’s a risky proposition, but if their product and company is new and relatively unknown, it might be worth the gamble. In the worst case scenario, they close up shop and re-launch with a newly-branded, squeaky clean green tea.

UPDATE: To complicate things further, Gary Gause from Dragonwater said they didn’t even register the domain. Somebody else registered it, and pointed it at www.dragonwater.com. How odd.

6 Responses to “The Marketing Folly of GreenTeaGirlie”

  1. DMack

    Remember “All I want for xmas is a PSP?”

    Gosh, that Internet sure is popular with the kids. Bill in marketing has devised a way for us to hock our products while insulting the customer and embarrassing our company!

    I guess they figured the Youtube community doesn’t care if something is fake, look at LonelyGirl15 :-\

  2. milowent

    i assume whoever is behind this may have given up at this point. i think some backlash was inevitable, but they over-scammed it so much that they completely poisoned the well. the first :10 video was just too obvious — it had no inherent charm like a lg15 video.

  3. MarkR

    Currently I’ve seen no real proof over whether or not this greenteagirlie is another viral scheme, or simply what the girl has been saying on her videos.

    I’ve yet to find out where you got that information regarding the domain, but if you’ve checked the domain out lately, the Whois has “http://www.domainsite.com” as the referral, with servers pointing at dreamhost.com. Also, the site no longer points to Dragonwater, but is now a green page with some text that describes this infamous Kallie. It now has a link to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. She briefly states that she is working on a MBA from the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

    All I can think of is that this info was changed sometime between your article and this post.

    I suppose there are quite a few theories running around, but the website does maintain the “friend set this up for me” story. One theory I would say is that this friend tried to get her known around youtube, and used one of those refresh ‘bots’ to boost her views. You know, the ol’ “No good deed goes unpunished” clause. Mind you at the moment, thats equally as plausible as the side most people are taking; its a viral marketing ploy.

    Whatever you believe, I think its important to keep in mind that this is the internet, and viral marketing does thrive here… the internet is it’s playground. That said, I think people have jumped to conclusions way to early… and youtube has especially become a modern day Salem.

  4. Dan

    On kallieannie.com she says she is a 20 year old nursing student. She also states she is going to be leaving clues on a white board in her videos to see if we can figure it all out. So far she has left 2 clues. In one video she asked the viewers to figure out her favorite colors. She goes on to say the number on the white board in the back ground represents those colors.

    733 text message = red
    94483 text message = white
    2583 text message = blue

    This same number appeared on the web site GreenTeaGirlie.com as a hit counter. If you clicked on the number, it was actualy a link to google netherlands. The link has since been taken off the site.

    On the website GreenTeaGirlie.com she says she is 22 years old and a Senior at UCSB. Why is she lying about her age? That’s hard to say.

    Another lie is the fact that in one of her first videos she claims she’s been aske out on a date and is going to secretly record the guy showing up at her house for the date. She is clearly seen wearing an engagement ring in this video and she claims she did tape him coming to the house but she decided not put it on youtube because he was such a nice guy. YA RIGHT!

    Clue number that 2 that she has left on the board is what looks like 999 and a period. What this clue means is yet to be revealed. STAY TUNED… Then again I guess that’s their whole point!

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