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Responsible Marketing

History’s worst viral campaign, or best?

By June 13, 2008June 16th, 20214 Comments

Above are two of four videos that were uploaded to YouTube two weeks ago proving that the radiation from cell phones is strong enough to actually pop corn.

Or not.

As it turns out, it’s a hoax—a viral marketing ploy by Cardo Systems, a maker of cell phone earpieces and headsets.

They’ve gained worldwide attention and have gone from a relative unknown to a poster child for viral campaigns.

Response has been mixed. Some are saying its brilliant and you can’t argue with it’s success. Others say it’s the Internet at its worst—it preys upon our collective fears in order to sell a product.

Even the Gawker Media Gossip Blog had this to say:

It would be satisfying to see this uncovered as history’s worst viral campaign.

Whether the makers of these videos realized it or not, by ‘proving’ an urban legend, these videos were Made to Stick.

What do you think, is this campaign responsible or not?

Comment below to weigh in.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Clearly not responsible, clearly underhanded since they are made to look real, so clearly this is WORST.

  • Ike says:

    Completely irresponsible.

    It may just scare people who can’t afford Bluetooth headsets into not having a cellphone to begin with. We’re talking a safety hazard now!

    It also perpetuates a Luddite outlook of being afraid of technology, AND it skews further the already misplaced public fears about real risks.

  • Clearly, who cares. If audiences can’t view this video with a grain of salt, then they shouldn’t be driving on the road WITHOUT a headset! Clever video and I loved it.

  • Harry Gard says:

    A hoax is a lie. The point is not that it scares people. If it were true, then scaring people might be a good thing. Scare tactics have proven very effective in some of anti-meth ads, for instance (which may be dramatizations of the truth, but are still not overt lies). It’s the lie that is the unethical and problematic thing. The more ads lie, the less people will believe any of them (including ones that might have kept a kid off meth). Clever is not a justification either. Plenty of folks will be misled by these. Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds hoax was clever too, but it induced a panic. I’m a big proponent of using headsets, especially while driving but there are better ways to that end.

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