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dragonA tiny dragon, pickled in formaldehyde, has been found in a garage in Oxfordshire. Its origins trace back to the 1890s when it was given to the British Natural History Museum by German scientists. Evidently the Germans were trying to play a joke on their British counterparts by getting them to believe that this tiny dragon was real. But the British didn't fall for it and threw the dragon away. Luckily someone saved it, and somehow, years later, it ended up in the Oxfordshire garage. Someone must have put a lot of work into creating the dragon, because it looks incredibly lifelike.
Categories: Advertising, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 28, 2004
Comments (1)
caravanBob and Denise are caravaners. In other words, they live in a caravan as they drive around the country. But they resent the way non-caravanners treat them. For instance, the way people in flashy sports cars sometimes make rude gestures as they speed by their caravan on the road. So Bob and Denise are organizing a campaign "to secure equality and respect for caravanners." They're hoping to mastermind a 'ring of aluminum' that will circle London on June 5th, created by thousands of caravanners going slow as they drive along the M25 that circles London. That's all well and good, but something smells fishy about Bob and Denise. They're just a little too offbeat and cutesy for their own good. Could they possibly be the creation of an advertising agency, along the lines of the recently seen Travelocity Gnome?
Categories: Advertising, Exploration/Travel, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 28, 2004
Comments (0)
A lot of people have been emailing me to let me know that the Where Is My Gnome site is part of a viral web campaign by Travelocity, but I've been too busy and never got around to updating that entry. But here's an article that explains the Gnome campaign.
Categories: Advertising, Exploration/Travel, Gnomes
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 08, 2004
Comments (2)
gnomeBill has lost his garden gnome. Someone stole it from his lawn. Now he's hoping that you can help him find it. There's even a 1-800 number you can call if you have any info, but Dani, who told me about the site, reports that if you call the number "a nervous sounding man asks you to leave a message if you have information about his gnome, then before the beep, he says 'Mom, if this is you, hang up now.'"
Categories: Advertising, Exploration/Travel, Gnomes
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 28, 2003
Comments (1)
This is one of those cases where a joke supposedly becomes reality. An advertising company (The Design Conspiracy) created a joke website called What Brand Are You?, whose purpose was to spoof the bizarre brand names that companies are increasingly dreaming up—names such as Aviva, Diageo, and Corus. Visitors to What Brand Are You could type in their name, their 'core values,' and their goals, and the supercomputer powering the website would then spit out a personalized brand name free of charge (my brand name is 'Acclivius'). In reality, the Design Conspiracy had just dreamed up a few silly names (about 150, they say) which were randomly offered when visitors hit the submit button. But apparently a number of companies liked the spoof names, because according to this BBC story twenty of them have now been registered as trademarks (Thanks to Andrew Nixon for sending in this link). Some of the spoof names that are now the brand names for real companies include Bivium, Libero, Ualeo, Winnovate, and Tempero.

The folks at the Design Conspiracy claim to be somewhat taken aback by all this... But the weird thing is that the companies who registered the spoof names all say that they've never heard of the What Brand Are You website. So something smells a little fishy. The skeptical part of me suspects that the Design Conspiracy might have slipped a few existing names (that they thought were silly) in with the fake names. Now they're enjoying the publicity of having their spoof names supposedly adopted by real companies. I could be being overly skeptical, of course, but 20 names out of 150 seems like a suspiciously high hit rate. This suspicion would seem to be confirmed when a simple search on whois.org reveals that the What Brand Are You site was registered on June 11, 2002, whereas the domain name for the Bivium Group (just to pick the first of the spoof/real names) was registered before this on May 22, 2002. In other words, the brand name Bivium existed before the Design Conspiracy listed it as a spoof name on their website. The pool of spoof names was seeded with real names.
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 18, 2003
Comments (1)
my son peter Here's a spooky site. It's called 'My Son Peter.' I'll use the text from the site itself to describe it: "My son Peter has always loved to play hide and seek. In fact, he loves it so much that he will wake me up in the middle of the night to play. The only problem is that Peter has been dead for eight years. This website documents the hell I've lived and continue to live every night." It's a fairly simple site, and it doesn't look like it's been updated for quite a while, so maybe Peter has discontinued his hauntings. But it does have a ghost video of Peter that's worth checking out. (Oh, and apparently the site was created by an advertising agency called Yarnbird that specializes in viral content).
Categories: Advertising, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 05, 2003
Comments (10)
Here's a new hoax website that's making the rounds: Skyhigh Airlines. It's motto is 'Flying More. Caring Less.' I love their Challenge Seating Innovation. You fight with other passengers for the seat you want. Also check out the list of cities they fly out of. Where else can you get a roundtrip ticket from Araz Stage Stop, CA to Smeltertown, TX? The site appears to have been created by Alaska Airlines, as part of a new humor-themed advertising campaign. There are accompanying TV and radio ads for Skyhigh Airlines (that reveal themselves to be ads for Alaska Airlines before they're over).
Categories: Advertising, Exploration/Travel, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 30, 2003
Comments (1)
Fark.com is running a contest to photoshop ads that use false advertising. There are a few amusing entries, such as 'Spam: 100% Pure Meat.'
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 17, 2003
Comments (0)
outhouse springs Stuart Elliott, in today's edition of his NY Times email newsletter, writes about a hoax product that recently became a real product. It goes by the name Outhouse Springs water. This brand of bottled water was dreamed up by an advertising agency that wanted to gauge how effective outdoor billboard ads could be. So they put 40 billboards advertising the fictitious Outhouse Springs Water up around Charleston, South Carolina. The billboards sported slogans such as "It's #1, not #2!" People definitely noticed the ads and actually started asking for the stuff at retailers. Demand became so intense that the ad agency eventually made a deal with a bottled-water company to produce a limited run of Outhouse Springs Water. It's on sale now at Piggly Wiggly's in Charleston. This product reminds me of Olde Frothingslosh Pale Stale Ale.
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 13, 2003
Comments (0)
How do people react when their expectations built up by advertising collide with reality? That was the question two Czech film students set out to answer. They flooded Czech media with advertisements for a new 'hypermarket'—Cesky sen— offering goods at rock-bottom prices. New TV sets for $19, for instance. Eager shoppers flooded to the hypermarket's address, shopping bags in hand, only to find a large empty scaffold bearing a banner fluttering aimlessly in the wind. (Story via Paul Farrington)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 12, 2003
Comments (0)
It looks like it's now 100% official that Hunting for Bambi was a hoax.
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 31, 2003
Comments (0)
So I think it's finally official that Hunting for Bambi is a hoax, a publicity stunt done to sell videos. Isn't it wonderful that public attention gets focused on things like this rather than, oh, poverty, hunger, education, etc.?
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
Comments (0)
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