Friday, February 02, 2007

Reflections on Steve Curran's Visit To Class (Pod Design)

Steve Curran from Pod Design came into speak with our class on viral marketing and branded entertainment. This is the second time Steve has visited the class and this time he brought with him Jessica Morris, Pod's Online Communication Specialist.

Steve went over a number of very cool campaigns he has worked on for clients like Warner Brothers, A&E, Atlantic Records, Peerflix, etc.). He creates"conversation pieces," which often take the form of online games, branded sites, or other online user "experiences" that lead people to have conversations about the brand.

There are two aspects of their visit that I wanted to comment on. First, Steve gave us a nice overview of the pros and cons for using branded games (what they did for ProTrade Mascot Kombat), branded web toys (what they did for Rumor Has It), and branded video (a good example of this, though not done by PodDesign, is the series of Diet Coke and Mentos videos that were originally CGM and then became branded).

For games, the pros are that it's fairly easy to identify who will play them since there are established gaming communities. However, some people have a block about playing a "game" so not everyone does.

For web toys, an advantage is that they are not perceived as a game and thus they have a chance to break through to a wider audience. However, they can be harder to seed because there aren't necessarily established communities.

Branded video is accessible to an even wider audience but the main disadvantage is that it's a very cluttered, competitive landscape.

Pod has also done more community- and microsite-oriented programs for clients, including Beacon Street Girls and Tweeter Mobile.

The second thing I wanted to comment on is Jessica's work. She talked about how she seeds various games in online venues. There are a number of methods including the use of tagging services (like Digg and del.icio.us), directory websites (that specialize in gaming), forums (that are particular to the campaign), bloggers, social networking sites, etc. She has found that this is a lot of public relations work in the truest relational sense of the term: it's about being transparent with intentions and forming relationships with the people involved with the sites (especially for directory websites and bloggers). In some cases the sites themselves seek out her and PodDesign to find the latest content for their users.

This was another great class visit -- Steve, you're 2 for 2 now! :-)

Thanks to both Steve and Jessica for joining us!

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