Extreme Marketing

ASCII art in Web Page SourceEarlier today, my tweet about Electronic Arts’ (EA) marketing campaign for its upcoming game -  Dante’s Inferno generated a few responses  wondering how many people actually look at web source code every day. EA had hidden ASCII art and some clues with in the source code of popular web sites. Here’s why I thought this was an effective tactic.

Just look at the number of people posting about this stunt and the responses they elicit (including my own tweet and the responses they generated). I agree that most of us are not in the habit of looking at web source code every day. But the novelty of the idea caused us all to comment on it and spawn discussions that are all probably accomplishing exactly what EA wanted in the first place from its marketing campaign :)

The key for any social / viral marketing campaign to be successful is to be as unique as possible. Programmers have been known to hide golden eggs in source code all the time and EA leveraged it very effectively as a marketing campaign. Breaking the mold and launching unique marketing campaigns takes some serious guts and EA has made several bold moves including this to promote Dante’s Inferno.

While some of these tactics – such as staging a fake protest at E3 – may have crossed the ethical line for most people, not all companies had to resort to such borderline measures. Pepsi pulled out of 2010 Super Bowl advertising and instead chose to spend $20 million on its Refresh Everything program that awards  $5,000 – $250,000 to individuals and organizations that turn good ideas into projects that make a difference.

Frankly, I can’t wait to see more such campaigns that blend viral marketing concepts with social responsibility.

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