Companies have been trying to create their own social networks ever since Friendster became popular. It was part fad and part marketer’s hope that customers were so devoted that they were dying to discuss shampoo or tires online.
With a campaign beginning this month, Vaseline is testing a more conceptual approach. Rather than creating an online social network, it is aiming to map the social network of a small town in Alaska.
The idea is to show that a new Vaseline lotion, Clinical Therapy, is so effective that the residents of Kodiak, Alaska, passed the word around. It was partly of their own accord, and partly because Vaseline was pushing it: Vaseline representatives set up shop in a storefront in Kodiak and gave away free bottles. The residents had to pinpoint which of their fellow townspeople had recommended it.
Vaseline representatives began mapping who was suggesting the lotion to whom. It was not curiosity that drove them, but commercialism. They were trying to find a plugged-in Kodiak resident who had widely recommended the lotion, to be featured in commercials.
Har. Any other suggestions?