Differentiating yourself in today's fast-moving world is becoming ever-more difficult, pushing some IT companies towards more unusual marketing approaches. Here are 10 of the weirdest, most wonderful, or downright ill-advised IT marketing campaigns we could find from recent years. Is that a buzz we hear - or just another razor slicing up your profit margin?
10: Strange Samsung sheep art (2009)
Samsung hired a Welsh shepherd to attach LEDs to some sheep and herd them into various formations, including the shape of the Mona Lisa, signing off the resulting video "with thanks to Samsung Smart LED technology. Look at their LED TVs." We have no words to add. None. But you can view a version at www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw.
9: Deadly devious Dell double (2011)
A Dell sales manager dressed as a biker in a black mask and carrying two metallic objects appeared in Round Rock one day and ordered staff into the lobby. The purpose? A 2011 promotion of the Dell Streak tablet. The result? Calls to 911 and "rescue" by a SWAT team. Two staff were later charged with "deadly conduct" and "interfering with public duties".
8: Voyeurism no win for Vodafone (2002)
Vodafone Australia sent two streakers - wearing only a logo - to interrupt a rugby game between New Zealand and Australia. The police were called and a media frenzy ensued. However, Vodafone was later forced to apologise, and also had to donate the equivalent of £20,000 to a sports-injury charity.
7: Computerlinks hits Scalextric skids
Following Citrix's 2005 NetScaler buy, Computerlinks splashed out on Scalextric slot car races at Alton Park and Silverstone to get the message across. Sadly, only three resellers turned up. Was it too far ahead of the curve? "Resellers tend to be skeptical, that's the value they add, but they're a tough bunch," Rupert Collier, then a product manager at the distie, confirms.
6: LifeLocked and loaded (2008)
Ads for LifeLock's identity protection software saw chief exec Todd Davis dare people to steal his identity using his real social security number. LifeLock says there was only one breach - but a West Virginia class action of alleged victims of 20 thefts begs to differ. So we don't know if the Davis dare paid off.
5: ANS infrastructure angels (2011)
What is it with cars again? ANS Group let loose an Infrastructure Angels video - where the lovely, latex-clad Miss Cisco, Miss VMware and Miss NetApp were pitted in a car race against a team representing on-premise solutions. They may have left on-premise in a cloud, we believe.
4: Near failure to launch (2008)
The Firefox 3.0 launch incorporated an attempt at the Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in 24 hours. However, the site was swamped in a sort of own-goal DDoS - with access taking two hours longer for US users than expected. Mozilla did win the record, achieving eight million downloads.
3: Nimans snaphappy island (ongoing)
B2B distribution isn't often thought of as the natural home of eye-catching marketing initiatives. However, Nimans in recent years has done its best to dispel such attitudes and keep its name in front of resellers with a regular stream of photo opportunities and staff fancy dress days. Its positively psychedelic mini-gallery at CRN Partner Connect 2012, complete with Dali-esque lobster phone and Julian Nimans himself as a Warholian Marilyn Monroe, also deserves mention.
2: Pop amateur hour goes viral (2012-13)
Recent months saw multiple parodies of Baauer's Harlem Shake and Psy's Gangnam Style spotted around the world like a particularly virulent case of measles. Some do work as promos, even though it's doubtful if industry expertise per se is what's on show. The best we've seen is F5's "IT Style" with complementary Darth Vader, scoring 48,303 YouTube views. Second has to be Softcat's all-office "Harlem Shake", with 8,380 views, and clearly beating off all competition in the Most Bonkers Place to Work category.
Should you be one of the three, or possibly five, people in the channel who hasn't seen either of the clips, Softcat's is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_Z5ZIKO5uQ.
F5's is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jo12LH5NqI.
1: Three's #danceponydance (2013)
The antics of Socks the Shetland Pony for Three have resulted in a multitude of Pony Mixer punter videos and more than 6.3 million YouTube views. It's early days to know the business benefits, but Three marketing director Tom Malleschitz confirms that its motivation is that it's the "fun, silly stuff" that gets shared. "Moonwalking Socks is living proof," he says.
We can but repeat: music really does make the world go round.
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