Lame and Lamer: 10 Dumbest Viral Marketing Campaigns

8. Cheetos Orange Underground

The Frito-Lay viral marketing campaign urged participants to do odd things with Cheetos. Uh oh!
Frito-Lay decided that its spokesfeline Chester Cheetah was getting stale. So last January it hired ad firm Goodby Silverstein to create a viral campaign to appeal to its core juvenile constituency--and let the chips fall where they may.

The Orange Underground site features a deliberately scratchy video urging viewers to commit Random Acts of Cheetos (RAoC). "Coat your fingers with Cheetos and leave your mark. On someone's back. Someone's desk. Wherever you like." It encouraged visitors to fill people's shoes with Cheetos, crush them inside someone's laptop, or toss them into the dryer with someone else's laundry--and then post videos of their dirty deeds online.

The company set up a blog, created a YouTube channel, took out full-page ads in USA Today, and even assigned a minion to troll the blogosphere and post comments using the screen name Cheeto1.

Fortunately for the world's laundry, almost no one noticed. Online-brand consultant John Eick, purveyor of the So Good food blog, counted a grand total of 17 blogs talking about the campaign a month after it launched. He wrote:

"The creators probably assumed a campaign with this level of creativity would go viral right away. Clearly it didn't.... Did they really expect people to start pulling crazy pranks with Cheetos? Who in their right mind is actually going to go out and buy 20 bags of Cheetos to pull pranks with?"

The verdict? Dangerously cheesy.

Lame: Encouraging juvenile pranks employing fake foodstuffs.

Lamer: The video of a teenager wandering through a supermarket with Cheetos stuck up his nose. That's one RAoC we didn't need to see.

7. Coors Code Blue

Participants were supposed to send each other 'Code Blue' text messages after the beer bottle label changed color--indicating the brew was cold enough to drink--except that wasn't 'technologicaly feasible.'
Coors's online adventures started with a beer commercial built around its new temperature-activated bottles. When the mountains on the Coors label changed color, excited Coors fans in the ad send "Code Blue" text messages to each other, indicating it's time for a cold one. The idea looked so cool on the commercials that Coors wanted people to do it in real life, until the company discovered that "text-messaging elaborate 'Code blue' alerts as shown in the commercial using mobile devices would not currently be technologically feasible" (according to the New York Times).

Instead, Coors poured money into the Web, creating Facebook and MySpace pages that allowed Coors fans to send "Code Blue" alerts to their pals. Apparently, Coors has never heard of Twitter.

Cold? Maybe. Cool? Not a chance.

Lame: Naming the campaign after the term used for hospital patients going into cardiac arrest. Maybe Coors should have included a free defibrillator with every six-pack.

Lamer: Thinking that changing the colors on the label makes the beer taste better.

6. Sony 'All I Want for Xmas Is a PSP'

Would you buy a PSP because this guy asked you to in a video? We didn't think so.
All Sony wanted for Christmas in 2006 was to create a little buzz for its handheld gaming platform. So its marketing company created a fake blog called "All I Want for Xmas Is a PSP," allegedly written by a teen named Charlie who's trying to get the parents of his pal Jeremy to pony up for a PSP. Bloggers who smelled a rat looked up the site's domain and found that it was registered to guerrilla marketing company Zipatoni (now called Rivet). The reaction was swift and brutal, and the site disappeared shortly thereafter.

How bad was the blog? To wit: "we started clowning with sum not-so-subtle hints to j's parents that a psp would be teh perfect gift. we created this site to spread the luv to those like j who want a psp!"

It gets worse. Along with badly executed teen patois came a video of Charlie's cousin Pete rapping about why he too wants a PSP (when what he really needs is a job and maybe some hair plugs): "Games so crazy / they totally amaze me / gotta ask my mom for one / fo' shizzy."

Yet more evidence why any white person not named Eminem should not rap. Not now, not ever. Fo' shizzy.

Lame: Registering a fake blog under the name of a real marketing company.

Lamer: Allowing "Cousin Pete" to come within 50 yards of a video camera.

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