Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, September 19, 2021


So what’s the lasting impact from the whole lonelygirl15 imbroglio? A rash of mystery/viral marketing campaigns employing a similar blurring of the edges between selljob and product.

“In the unspoken compact between us and advertisers, there is a lot we will take,” said Bob Garfield, the critic for the trade publication Advertising Age and a co-host of the WNYC radio program “On the Media.” “We will be screamed at; we will be offended; we will be irritated. But we won’t be made into chumps. So there is always a risk of backlash when the reveal reveals not only who the advertiser is, but that they’ve been lying to us.”

Despite all of that, advertisers may try to duplicate the success of Lonelygirl in future ad campaigns.

“I think Lonelygirl will egg people on to try to recreate the Lonelygirl phenomenon,” Mr. Garfield said. “What advertiser doesn’t love a phenomenon?”

Which is pretty much what I figured would be co-opted from the whole dynamic:

And I think that’s ultimately the big cha-ching marketing lesson to be learned from this exercise. The point isn’t whether or not a ruse like this can be pulled off — in fact, it’s probably more effective if it doesn’t come off. Cracks in the facade invite obsessive snoopers to poke around and, inevitably, spread the word about what they’ve “uncovered”. That, in turn, generates publicity that’s substantially different from the usual promotional messages — it projects an air of defiance, of beating the gamemaster at his own game. It shifts the story from typical marketing message to hard news (or, at least, harder news than a press release is), and that framework shift makes it all the more effective. It engages a segment of the audience who, while seemingly hostile to the campaign, actually wind up becoming the most dedicated and vocal cheerleaders for the effort. In other words: A marketer’s dream.

That’s the point: The generation of a conspiratorial atmosphere, where the audience thinks it’s outwitted the hype machine. When, in reality, the machine has merely co-opted the audience, in order to push an even more effective sell job. In short, you can expect to see a rash of these supposed “exposés”, especially online, in the near future.

Sure, I’m literally repeating myself. But I think it bears repeating, if only to counter all the nonsense about the creation of a new-and-improved media format from all this. This is just a different delivery system for the same old smoke and mirrors.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/19/2006 11:45pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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In the middle of my narrative rumination on an alternate political destiny for North America if the South had won the Civil War, I inserted a casual geographical development:

The [Louisiana Free State] maintains a balance of power through its extensive petroleum resources and the status of New New Orleans (formerly Morgan City, before the Mississippi River changed course through natural causes during the 1920s) as an international world-class trade center.

Anyone paying attention might have dismissed this as just a wholly fantastical plot device, as unreal as the general prospect of a balkanized North America.

But that betrays a poor understanding of the principles behind counterfactual historical speculation: The adherence to real-world developments, as closely as possible given altered circumstances. Therefore, the idea that the Mississippi River would re-route its output is not only rooted in fact, but also under serious consideration today, as a way to restore some balance to Louisiana’s coastline.

Not to worry, as the eggheads advocating a river run wild aren’t calling for a completely natural flow:

Simply letting the Mississippi shift to the Atchafalaya would do a lot for the sediment-starved marshes west of the Mississippi. But it would leave cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans — and the petrochemical infrastructure between them — without fresh water or a navigable waterway.

The diversion the scientists propose would be much farther downstream, but where exactly is not at all certain. One possible location is near Davant, about 45 miles southeast of New Orleans. Another is near Empire, further down the river, where the levees could be opened. In either case the river flow into wet and marshy areas to the west. Another way would have to be found — or constructed — for ships to reach the shipping lane, possibly something engineers call a slack-water channel.

That Atchafalaya path, which was first detected during the 1950s, would indeed roll right past Morgan City. Thus my basis for the fictional New New Orleans (forming in the 1920s, on the assumption that U.S. Army Engineering construction never would have existed, thus leading to an earlier topographical realignment).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/19/2006 11:20pm
Category: History, Political, Science
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Don’t look now, but Albuquerque is making rumblings about angling for a major league franchise or two:

Look 10 or 15 years down the road. In a metropolitan area of, say, 700,000 to 750,000 people, will there be a push to move an NBA or NHL franchise to Albuquerque? It’s possible, perhaps even likely. Will one be here with an arena that seats only 10,000?

No way. A future mayor almost certainly would come back to Albuquerqueans and ask for their support in building a mega-facility. Our take is simple: Skip that step and build a major arena now.

Expect rampant cursing from the world of sport journalism should a big-league team land in New Mexico, and reporters constantly stumble over the spelling of “Albaquerque” “Albuquerque” (dammit!).

On the plus side, there are built-in rivalries with Dallas and Phoenix to consider. And for whichever sport gets there first, the team would just have to adopt the coolest geography-appropriate name possible: “Aztecs”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/19/2006 05:04pm
Category: Basketball, Hockey, SportsBiz
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