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Guerrilla marketing pays off

Sony`s new tactics designed to create interest in the Sony Ericsson T68i have already paid off - but will the marketing ploy backfire?
Read time 3min 20sec

In the middle of all the high profile scandals currently being unearthed in the US, a story like this slips through and makes it to the top of the news - that Sony Ericsson has adopted what it terms a guerrilla marketing tactic to sell its new handset, the T68i, which supports a snap-on camera in the form of the Communicam.

Instead of waiting for the word to spread, Sony is paying actors, actresses and models to use the phone in conspicuous view of potential suckers... er, punters.

UK correspondent

It`s almost like product placement in the movies (see Minority Report for a quite commendable example of this particular marketing ploy), but with a twist - it`s happening out there on the streets and you may be the next person to be caught in the net.

For more information on this story, check out http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/hardware/2002/0208020921.asp. The gist of it is that Sony is adopting a decidedly proactive route in marketing the new phone - instead of waiting for the word to spread, Sony is paying actors, actresses and models to use the phone in conspicuous view of potential suckers... er, punters.

The company is reportedly spending $5 million on the campaign. If you ask me, it should all go to the person who decided to leak the story to the press. It`s whipped up such an interest in the media that the message has already been taken to millions of potential new customers.

It is true that there is the chance that some percentage of that potential market will have been soured on the phone already - after all, a lot of people out there simply don`t like being deceived. But many others, whose free will has already been beaten out of them by other, more successful marketing campaigns, no doubt already find themselves positively disposed to the phone and its accessories.

Contagion uncontained

Still, one has to place this incident in context. E-tailers and spammers have resorted to underhand tactics and other dirty tricks for quite some time now, in a bid to keep Web users on their sites.

A survey conducted last year by automated Internet intelligence firm Cyveillance, found that over 25% of the Web`s top e-tailers were using a variety of intrusive techniques to attract consumers to their sites and keep them there for as long as possible.

The research listed numerous other tactics used by mainstream e-tailers to boost traffic and sales, including pop-ups, mouse-trapping, spoof pages, visible and invisible seeding, framing and mislabelling links.

If these practices continue, people will soon start viewing anyone associated with or affiliated to an e-tailer in about the same light as they do second-hand car salesmen. Not that it is always warranted - I`m sure there are plenty of credible second-hand car salesmen out there - but it only takes a couple of rotten apples to make the whole barrel stink.

Luckily, there appears to be some sanity left in the world; iVillage.com made the headlines recently when in response to findings of a reader survey, it made the decision to eliminate the majority of pop-ups from its site. More than 95% of its readers considered pop-ups to be the "most frustrating feature of the Web".

And now the good news

Honourable mention to bridges.org, the NGO that assists communities in developing countries to span the digital divide.

The group has released an online guide to finding information about free computers, software and e-mail accounts targeted at the thousands of people and organisations that simply can`t afford retail prices.

The guide lists a range of IT products and services which are available at little or no cost, and can be found at www.bridges.org/toolkit/freeIT.html.

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