Pherotones: Pheromone Ring Tones or Creative Stealth Marketing?
It started off as a seemingly innocent interview with a "Dr. Myra Vanderhood" who has supposedly been doing research about "pherotones". The tones can be downloaded as ringtones so you can, according to the doctor, "experience the ring tone secrets that will make you irresistible to the opposite sex."
But little by little, by investigating the source of a Wikipedia entry about Pherotones (which is under review for deletion), ad buying activity, and other indicators, the Internet community has discovered the truth behind another player in this growing trend.
The trend? Viral, and sometimes deceptive, ultra-creative, interactive stealth marketing campaigns that mix reality and fiction, and integrate participation by the public.
"Dr. Myra Vanderhood" is part of a viral marketing campaign by the Agency behind the Audi A3 Heist campaign, McKinney-Silver.
The first mentions of Pherotones began around December 30, on "Dr. Vanderhood's" Pherotones blog, where the good doctor began posting "an ongoing diary of the life of a scientist on the verge of a major breakthrough." The JoniMueller blog caught wind of the Pherotones blog and posted about it on January 16. The real story began to break on January 18th with an Oreilly interview with Vanderhood.
The Pherotone campaign is the product of the same agency that produced the Audi A3 viral participatory campaign, McKinney & Silver. The idea behind the Audi A3 promotion, directed specifically to a tech-saavy audience, was an immersive campaign called "THE ART OF THE H3IST." The campaign for Audi spanned a 3-month time period, and the story line blurred the lines between the fictional script of the campaign, and real world participation.
The Phertones ploy is to promote the new mobile phone content company Oasys Mobile.
There are other super-creative agencies, such as Shepardson, Stern and Kaminsky, creators of the Creative Liberation Intelligence Organization, an excellent interactive Flash website that's about... Creative Agencies!
An ongoing comment section about Pherotones as viral marketing can be found at Makezine.
Viral marketing websites that have made a stir: