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Ever dream THIS MAN?
October 15, 2009 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Ever dream this man? Every night throughout the world hundreds of people dream about this face.

Or not. The registrant of thisman.org, Andrea Natella, is the director of guerrigliamarketing.it (google translation), "an advertising agency that uses non-conventional communication techniques, like the creation of fictitious events or campaigns reaching the limits of legality, through which they 'fuck the market in order to enter it'."
posted by logicpunk (139 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never dreamed him: I guess because it's all a big marketing ploy...
posted by From Bklyn at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2009


Well, consider my market fucked.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:05 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


For a second there I thought this was going to be a post about Cthulhu. Glad to see he is not stirring in is prison... Although I guess this is a different sort of beast altogether.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank god I've never seen that face in my dreams. Brrr.

Me, I just dream about a walkin' dude. I can never quite see his face, but I like the cut of his jib.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Yes.

Many times.

Wow.
posted by voronoi at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]




Wow, every night throughout the world, when 6 billion people are sleeping, only hundreds dream about this face?

I guess I could believe that. There are probably a few thousand dreaming about some random celebrity or another, so it's not that implausible.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, I dream about Wallace Shawn nearly every night.
posted by hermitosis at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [23 favorites]


I don't mind guerrilla marketing when its being used to market ideas, but when it's just an ad, I find it increasingly annoying. Firstly, it doesn't work -- the ads rarely go viral, and, when they do, it's very hard to connect them with whatever they're trying to sell, since the ad is hidden. Secondly, I don't like it when people take a genuine Web phenomenon and try to hitch their sleazy wagon to it to move product. Thirdly, when you start out with a promotional gimmick that relies on an element of deception, I'm already suspicious of whatever you're trying to sell to me.

Frankly, I think the Web would be a thousand times better if people who can only think about it in terms of marketing where spontaneously electrocuted the moment they logged on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Wow voronoi, that must be pretty strange to see a website about someone you see in your dreams and to find out that others see him too.

I can't begin to guess why this is, but I'd be spending the rest of the day trying to puzzle that one out if I was you, to say the least.
posted by EricGjerde at 8:11 AM on October 15, 2009


No. But I'm pretty sure he hangs out at the Black Lodge.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:11 AM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


were, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:11 AM on October 15, 2009


Yeah, he does bear a resemblance to the Man From Another Place.
posted by Beardman at 8:14 AM on October 15, 2009


Man, something *awful* must be happening in the Dreaming. Something involving PR.
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Fuck all advertisers and fuck their 700 dollar jeans. And it's not even my dislike of American-style capitalism. It's that they can't do this shit correctly. You're not culturejamming. You're not fucking the market. You're making some stupid bullshit that anyone who has used the internet as a means of social communication or culture can instantly see through and it's insulting in the highest degree -- like going to a foreign country, spitting out a few garbled sentences about finding the nearest restroom from a translation guide, and then hurrying back with your marketing friends in SoHo and London and LA to give each other awards and convince Audi or Whole Foods or whoever that you're gonna need three times the budget for your next Culturefreak Mindfuck viralblog.

We live in an era where just about every single person in a developed country has the ability to access literally immeasurable amounts of information, film and edit reasonably high-quality video and sound, and interact with anyone they can get the attention of. And stupid shit like this is still considered "cutting edge?" You aren't fooling anyone, you hacks.

I want to be lied to. I want to be fooled. I want to stumble into your bullshit, believe it to be authentic, be entertained, and then find out it's for something else. But for whatever reason, the entire goddamn industry either is incapable of doing something that looks "real," or you apologize for your whole creation within seconds of me seeing it.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:17 AM on October 15, 2009 [42 favorites]


Gary basically encapsulated my feelings on viral ads last year.
posted by explosion at 8:17 AM on October 15, 2009


Secondly, I don't like it...

Business majors don't care what you like. Business majors care about what optimizes the single variable they've been taught to care about: $.
posted by DU at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Am I crazy, or does that face look like the midget Agent Cooper dreamed about in that TWIN PEAKS episode?

...Because even if this is bogus, that would explain why people may actually dream about it anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I see upon posting that jrossi4r and Beardman beat me to it.

I'll just be over here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on October 15, 2009


No. But I'm pretty sure he hangs out at the Black Lodge.

Is that what that ski resort from AskMe was called?
posted by EarBucket at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2009


Look's like Jason Molina has some explaining to do.
posted by cloeburner at 8:29 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The owls are not what they seem.

They're ads.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I had originally hoped this was just selling garmonbozia, then I realized I had enough already.
posted by adipocere at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Viral marketing taught me to automatically do a WHOIS whenever something like this pops up.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


logicpunk: "The registrant of thisman.org, Andrea Natella, is the director of guerrigliamarketing.it (google translation), "an advertising agency that uses non-conventional communication techniques, like the creation of fictitious events or campaigns reaching the limits of legality, through which they 'fuck the market in order to enter it'."

I skimmed through the website and still don't understand. What are they marketing, nightmare fuel?
posted by Rhaomi at 8:41 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Millions of people dream about a guy with caterpillars crawling on his face? That's a very specific dream. And freaky.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:47 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wanted for armed robbery, possession of controlled substances, and loitering.
posted by kozad at 8:47 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a Formica table.
posted by xmutex at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2009


I'm not sure if I remember the face exactly, but I do remember he was wearing LightspeedTM briefs.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


This man was my civics teacher in 8th grade. Yes, he's appeared in a dream or two, repeating his classic line about the right to "bare arms." Arrgh.
posted by notashroom at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Palmer Eldritch, is that you?
posted by mullingitover at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Contrary to popular misconception, this is what Jesus actually looks like.
I don't know who that dude is who keeps showing up on the tortillas.
posted by rocket88 at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a Formica table.

"Green is it's color"
posted by SinisterPurpose at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2009


It's OK folks. It's just Todd Barry, and all he wants is to tell you that he'll be opening for Ricky Gervais at Carnegie Hall next month.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:55 AM on October 15, 2009


Goddamn it. I clicked the first link, read the page, and was both fascinated and incredibly creeped out. The man's face seems almost familiar to me, as though I might have walked by him on the street, and yet I find him intensely unsettling, even frightening. Reading the history, that he was drawn by one patient, then recognized by another, and another, and another, the sketch sent from one therapist to the next, compelled me. I read about the dreams and looked at the portraits, the signs on telephone poles, and wondered: Could there be something to this? Could this possibly be real? The theories listed on the site seemed almost plausible, not the mad conspiratorial ramblings about aliens and the government I had expected to see. And I wanted there to be something to this. I wanted to read the long, contentious debate that I knew would arise from this topic. I wanted to read mefites' opinions on the subject, their conjecturing about the root of the phenomenon. I wanted to know if anyone else read each page with a growing sense of unease. I wanted to know if that face made anyone else feel like they were being watched.

So I returned to mefi.

And I clicked the [more inside].

And it was an ad.

So fuck you, Andrea Natella, and fuck you, viral advertisers. You can all go straight to hell.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:55 AM on October 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


So fuck you, Andrea Natella, and fuck you, viral advertisers. You can all go straight to hell.

Why? I think viral advertising is interesting. It sometimes, as it did you, catches you off-guard. When done right, it messes with your preconceptions. It can be artistic, it can be funny. It's certainly more interesting than HERE IS A GOOD BEER LOOK AN ATTRACTIVE WOMAN IS DRINKING IT BUY IT KTHX.

Are you more angry that you were caught off-guard? That something that seemed to be one thing was another? That's not so bad, is it?

I don't get the hate for viral advertising. It can be quite clever. And no, I'm not in advertising.
posted by xmutex at 9:00 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, I dream about Wallace Shawn nearly every night.

Inconceivable!
posted by TedW at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Claudia D'Alonso: You are an advertising agency and as such realized similar campaigns on a commission basis. Do you give yourselves ethical limits regarding the jobs you accept?

Andrea Natella: We will never make publicity for companies that produce weapons, furs or for any military forces or police forces. Having said this, our ethical limit is empiricist. Are we able to say something interesting with a campaign? If we accept the assignment, otherwise we try to refuse it.


Claudia D'Alonso: do you think that guerrilla techniques risk being, at times, reabsorbed by the advertisng trade? Think for example about the Diesel Wall, about football championships on the Nike roof... are you running the risk of being ripped off by the market again?

Andrea Natella: There is an issue that every culture jammer should ask themselves when they think about an action: is it aversive, radical and innovative enough? Would it be even if it were "sponsored"? If the answer to this second question is no, then the answer to the first question is probably negative, too. If an action is radical enough it would be even if it had a sponsor. For this reason truly radical actions find it hard to sponsors.

I still don't understand if they're culture jammers or marketers, or are these things the same?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:06 AM on October 15, 2009


I'm disappointed that the downloadable flyers don't read "THIS MAN HAS A POSSE."
posted by anthom at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


xmutex:I don't get the hate for viral advertising. It can be quite clever. And no, I'm not in advertising.

But thats the thing, viral marketers are by definition liars, so you totally could be one.
posted by Iax at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If this is a viral for a movie, I think I will see it. Looks like a good and weird film.

Of course, what's great about this is that people don't really remember much about their dreams, but fill in the gaps. It's easy to implant a memory by asking it the right way about something vague. Further, at least some of the people who see this site or see the posters will have dreams about the man.

I like it, very clever. I really hope there's more to this than just basic culture jamming.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:14 AM on October 15, 2009


Yesterday, upon the stair
I saw This Man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.

I wish This Man would Go Away.
posted by Forrest Greene at 9:16 AM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh, I didn't see the "more inside" lines. Makes me sad that this is probably just a one-off campaign to generate buzz about the ad agency. I was really hoping they were pitching a book or movie about weird dream phenomena.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:16 AM on October 15, 2009


Hey! I did have a dream about him. In my dream, we were in Havana and I grabbed him and kissed him on the lips and said: "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 9:17 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's easy to implant a memory by asking it the right way about something vague.

Do you remember this photo?
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think these kinds of tactics ultimately aren't so successful. Because I don't know about you, hive, but this is how my li'l Internet-addled, A.D.D, wait-look-over-there-it's-a-link brain works these days, in rapid fire:

1. I look at your website and think, Em, huh... looks like a young Carl Sagan
2. I do a quick Google images search to confirm my theory.
3. I detour to Facebook to see if anything's happened in the last 20 minutes.
4. I feel vaguely nostalgic for Carl Sagan and browse related YouTube videos for the next 30 minutes. And that reminds me of Stephen Hawking. And I go off on another hunt for that cute Discovery Channel commercial which features Stephen Hawking for like, a half second at the end.
5. And then I go check email and forget about the whole thing.

That doesn't mean I don't spare a second or two to resent the hell out of you for being complicit in oversaturating my world with marketing ploys, gimmicks and advertising and sheesh, why do even the little bars that you use to divide your pile of groceries from the next guy's at checkout have to have advertisements on them now? All I really care about now is finding some peaceful white space in the world and I probably won't ever be impressed, moved, or motivated by your insincere ad campaign tomfoolery. Fail x2.
posted by missmobtown at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


But thats the thing, viral marketers are by definition liars, so you totally could be one.

A lot of art is deceit. You know the line, all writers are liars.

Get over it.
posted by xmutex at 9:21 AM on October 15, 2009


I don't get the hate for viral advertising. It can be quite clever.

It can be clever, but in the case of thisman, it seems more mean-spirited than anything else. Kind of the equivalent of your parents convincing you that the entire family is on its way to see the last unicorn on earth, and then you wind up at a donkey show in Tijuana where the donkey is wearing an obviously fake strap-on horn. Then your parents laugh at you for believing in unicorns.
posted by logicpunk at 9:24 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, did she, as an advertiser, appropriate "culture jamming"?
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


As I am now sad this wasn't a viral campaign for a real product, I'm going to describe what I wish it was for: A live action Italian remake of Paprika, but instead of the dream agent being a cute anime action hero, we've got a middle manager who isn't very good at computers and thus can't make his avatar look any different from his physical self.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:25 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like that under theories, after the religious theory, they have the dream surfer which they describe as "...the most interesting theory and the one that has the greatest implications, but it has also the lowest scientific credibility."

Yes. 'Cause the religious theory is full of scientific credibility.
posted by opsin at 9:28 AM on October 15, 2009


It can be clever, but in the case of thisman, it seems more mean-spirited than anything else. Kind of the equivalent of your parents convincing you that the entire family is on its way to see the last unicorn on earth, and then you wind up at a donkey show in Tijuana where the donkey is wearing an obviously fake strap-on horn. Then your parents laugh at you for believing in unicorns.

Yeah but you're an adult. I'm assuming so. Everyone here on Metafilter is an adult, or borderline. And replacing the kid your scenario with an adult, and the parents with a marketer, now you've got something funny.
posted by xmutex at 9:28 AM on October 15, 2009


"The true problem is that street cultures are the true research and development units of post-fordist Capitalism. A unit to which, however, no economical counterpart is recognized."

Translation: I'm surely a fucking hoot at parties. Sort of a "Debbie Downer" with labia/scrotum piercings and scorchingly bad B.O.

"Guerrigliamarketing was born out of a bet."

You lost. Go market-fuck somewhere else.

"Is it possible to imagine modalities of radical participation on the universe of brands and at the same time present oneself as an advertising agency? Is it possible for the professionals of communication not to give up their own political ideas in carrying out their job? Guerrigiamarketing.it is still a bet that is up against demands of income and the need not to betray this projectuality."

Translation: gjhelkrjhqgerg0[92h849hjklw3fgnaslkdgani03q4iqhn3[4o0gq3n4giq34gnq34g3q4

:::deep breath::::

jihqkjwerhfqfiouwefhpqiowhef-23f09i2h3fio02jhefokejkrgnklejrgejkrgelrkgeqlrgker

I don't think it is possible to hate marketing/marketers enough. There should be a place on the web to purchase more hate if your hate runs out.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:30 AM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Andrea Natella really, really wants to be Hubertus Bigend.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:34 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait so viral marketing is putting ads in peoples' dreams?!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 AM on October 15, 2009


KevinSkomsvold: "Go market-fuck somewhere else.
"

We could call it "rapeketing" or "rohypnoketing" .
posted by boo_radley at 9:41 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"In another world he might have been a seer or a shaman priest... here he's just a shoe salesman who walks with the shadows."
posted by chocolatetiara at 9:44 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the spoilers, logicpunk - you just deprived the Mefi Junior Detective Club of yet another thrilling chase ;)

Anyway, just how good a guerilla marketer are you, if your who-is exposes you as a guerilla marketer?
posted by carter at 9:47 AM on October 15, 2009


All I know is, thanks to an earlier MetaFilter thread, I do have dreams about This Man. More frequently than I would like. Fuck you, MetaFilter.
posted by hippybear at 9:51 AM on October 15, 2009


Pepsi Eyebrows?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2009


No thanks for posting this stupid shit.
posted by Liver at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


@mccarty.tim--

An excellent article on marketing and false nostalgia from the NYT.

The money quote: "The researchers found that subjects presented with a fake Disney World ad inviting them to “remember the characters of your youth: Mickey, Goofy . . . ” were significantly more likely to say they recalled that as children they had met “a favorite TV character at a theme resort” than those who didn’t see the ad. The fascinating thing was what happened when they repeated the experiment, tweaking the ads to include Bugs Bunny, who, of course, is not a Disney character at all. About 16 percent of subjects subsequently claimed that, as children, they shook hands with Bugs Bunny at a Disney theme park. Repeated fake-ad exposure apparently led to higher false-memory rates. In a separate study, Loftus asked subjects with Bugs in their memories what, exactly, they recalled about this incident; of these, 62 percent recounted shaking Bugs’s hand, and more than a quarter specifically recalled him saying, “What’s up, Doc?”

Earle says that this imperfection of memory can be used to enhance whatever new Brim he comes up with. This is “a benefit of dormancy,” he says. The brand equity has value on its own, but it can be grafted onto something newer and, perhaps, more innovative."
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:01 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


xmutex: It's less that I was "caught off guard," although I certainly was, and more that I feel
like I was played. I felt real emotion in response to that site, and there seemed to be a kind of authenticity to it, even as I wondered if it might be a hoax. If it had been, I probably would've been upset, but there would still be a kind of truth to it, because it existed for its own sake, and it touched something in me. As it is, it still touched that part of me, but now it feels like that was orchestrated from the get-go to soften me up for the coming schill. It makes me feel like a dupe.

(on preview, basically what logicpunk said, but since it wasn't good enough for you when he said it, I doubt it'll be good enough coming from me.)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:12 AM on October 15, 2009


In the main portrait (the one on the front page), the nose/mouth/chin are Micheal Jackson's.

Well, the nose is more like Janet's, actually. Still...
posted by Sys Rq at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2009


Okay, who's gonna register thismanrapedandkilledayoungwomanin1990.com and get all meme-y on these folks?
posted by jamstigator at 10:20 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


> I'm sorry, did she, as an advertiser, appropriate "culture jamming"?

Oh, no, see, she detourned it!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:26 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh, someone actually believed the stuff written in Fringeware Review?
posted by ryoshu at 10:36 AM on October 15, 2009


Natalie Portman doesn't look like that in my dreams....
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:37 AM on October 15, 2009


If you drink Tree Frog Beer, you'll feel great and have lots of girlfriends!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:37 AM on October 15, 2009


(Sorry for the weird line-breaks/formatting of my
last comment; I'm doing this from an iPhone)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2009


I want to be lied to. I want to be fooled. I want to stumble into your bullshit, believe it to be authentic, be entertained, and then find out it's for something else.

These types of campaigns have been done well in the past. It's only recently that advertising and marketing companies have had difficulty creating effective ones -- and I blame that primarily on the group consciousness, collaborative effect of the internet. One of the reasons the PR company I work for generally warns our clients against such campaigns is they tend to backfire.

Take the campaign for the miniseries "V" which premiered in May, 1983. Starting in September 1982, print ads began showing up on billboards all over the US that showed only a red, spraypainted "V" on either a black or white background. There was nothing else on the ads.

In subsequent months, similar ads appeared, often containing an unidentifiable symbol made up of black or red dots and lines. Eagle-eyed observers might have noted that it looked like a swastika.

This went on for months. No one really knew what the V meant. But it was everywhere. I remember seeing those posters on bus stops here in NYC. I also vaguely remember seeing a perplexed news report about it on WNBC.

In February 1983, new billboards and bus stop posters went up. Now the "V" was paired with the words "RESIST!" or "FIGHT BACK!" All in red spray painted graffiti.

But it wasn't until March that the ads were revealed to be part of a campaign for a new scifi television miniseries, scheduled to air on NBC in May. The network had brilliantly crafted one of the first successful quasi-viral campaigns ever put together for a television series. And it worked.

This Fall, ABC is remaking "V". But instead of creating a subtle, secretive ad campaign, the network decided to lay all its cards out on the table in the opening trailer. (Previously on MeFi) Perhaps this dates me, but I think it's a shame that they didn't try a variation of the original ad campaign.

Of course, one could argue that it's impossible to prevent spoilers on a show that's already been made from reaching one's audience. Even a show which aired 26 years ago, before many of it's probably viewers were even born. Still, it might have been a fun way to attract interest to the show before it aired.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


like I was played. I felt real emotion in response to that site, and there seemed to be a kind of authenticity to it, even as I wondered if it might be a hoax. If it had been, I probably would've been upset, but there would still be a kind of truth to it, because it existed for its own sake, and it touched something in me. As it is, it still touched that part of me, but now it feels like that was orchestrated from the get-go to soften me up for the coming schill. It makes me feel like a dupe.

I think the factors you're mention for purposes of differentiating an ad campaign from anything else on the internet are pretty flimsy constructs. Nothing exists in the public eye for its own sake, everything is put out to be consumed and generally speaking, everything is for a price because books and film and websites and digital mediums of all kinds are not free to produce. If it weren't for consumption it'd stay in our locked diaries and our closets. Likewise the so-called truth of something isn't really anything that can ever be ascertained- we make our best guesses, we go forward. Everything, even a tacky ad, has a "kind of truth" and that's whatever we choose to give it.
posted by xmutex at 10:46 AM on October 15, 2009


xmutex: "Nothing exists in the public eye for its own sake"

I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you here. Can you elaborate?
posted by boo_radley at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2009


For clarification's sake....

There are two reasons why most stealth viral campaigns tend to backfire:

1) They tend to be easily sussed out by curious, determined groups of people with internet access.
2) They involve deliberate deception. The public generally doesn't like being ticked and lied to.

So unless a stealth viral campaign is done in a cutesy, highly creative or innovative manner (Think, Burger King's "Chicken Man",) they can easily cause damage to a brand's image.
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on October 15, 2009


the network decided to lay all its cards out on the table in the opening trailer. (Previously on MeFi) Perhaps this dates me, but I think it's a shame that they didn't try a variation of the original ad campaign.

It's a different marketing goal -- enticement vs. recognition.

When marketing the original, the desired result was that the audience asks, "'Trust your alien friends?' What's that about? That's interesting. I'll watch that."

Since this is a remake, the audience already knows the spoiler, so the desired result is that the audience asks, "Oh, that! I remember that! I remember that I liked that, so I'll watch this. I wonder how this will be new?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2009


Ugh. We so buried in consumerism that nothing can be done without trying to justify it financieally, nothing exists that can't be transformed into profit, and people regularly mistake their consumption habots for expressions of achievement or taste, when they're relaly just arbitrary ways to move money around. The Web, on occasion, gives us stuff that people just do becauyse they like it, and for fun, or because they think it is funny, with no profit motive in mind, and sometimes these go viral. And one end is trying to collect these up and turn them into America's funniest home videos for the sake of profit, and the other end is trying to recreate them, and fake them, and fool us into thinking we're seeing something amazing, when all we're looking at is another fucking ad.

Maybe it's a kind of truth, but it's a kind of truth that has the stink of cheap cologne and cigars that I associate with the oversized, pushy, sweaty, desperate salesmen who are only to happy to lie to you to make a sale.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2009


Likewise the so-called truth of something isn't really anything that can ever be ascertained- we make our best guesses, we go forward.

This form of solipsism is such a weak philosophical argument. There are most certainly absolute truths in this world. Actions, reactions and results are often verifiable, and not purely subjective to one particular individual's perceptions.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2009


Hey, maybe we're all living batteries who are only living in a computer construct. If that were the case, these ads would be no more false than a real one, because everything is false.

There is no spoon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on October 15, 2009


In occultism, when one is directed to consult with ghosts/spirits or perform spells/rituals or smear oneself with butter and do cartwheels for the sake of world peace, whatever it is, the goal is to induce an altered state of consciousness. The ultimate goal is to be made aware of the unreality of, well, everything. When you can call down your holy guardian angel and have a conversation with it and have it feel as real as the chair you're sitting on, how can you really accept the rest of consensus reality? This thing clearly doesn't exist outside your mind, what's to say other things do? Clearly they do, but how can you trust their authenticity? This is why people who do this stuff regularly tend to be, by most conventional definitions, completely fucking insane.

Viral marketing is occultism, but with one crucial difference: it is not done at your behest. It is done to you, by people manipulating you. Any time a clever, novel, interesting site or meme or idea on the internet appears, you have to first ask yourself, "is this marketing?" "Am I being sold something?" It causes you to doubt the authenticity of everything, much in the same way occultism does, but not for the sake of any concept of spiritual growth or self-awareness. It trains you see every potential message as an attempt to sell you something, it cheapens discourse by forcing a transactional view of communication.

It's called "viral" for a reason: it's a disease.
posted by Ndwright at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Make your own THIS MAN
posted by anthom at 11:27 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


OHMYGOD halfway through this thread I suddenly realized that the gum I like HAS come back in style!

That made my whole fucking day. Maybe I should go look for a circle of sycamore trees, as long as these things are finally coming true.

(Eclipse Midnight Cool, "minty + anise," which was gone from stores for several years. Just found some for sale last week, and bought like three packs JUST IN CASE.)
posted by ErikaB at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


This form of solipsism is such a weak philosophical argument. There are most certainly absolute truths in this world.

I wasn't being solipsistic. You have absolutely no idea in this world whether a given thing is true, or "authentic" (another weak construct). There is a truth to the case whether a given thing is authentic, but you cannot know it, so authenticity cannot be a guiding factor when determining the relative value of something.

Viral marketing is occultism, but with one crucial difference: it is not done at your behest. It is done to you, by people manipulating you.

Why is this an inherently bad thing? Flash mobs, like those where people freeze for a time in a shopping market, are not done at your behest. Street mimes do not work at your behest. Art sometimes is done to you, by people manipulating you. You generally cannot determine whether their intent may to amuse and entertain or cause reflection, or to sell you something. Most of life's greatest (and worst) moments happen to you, without your consent.
posted by xmutex at 11:34 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


There should be a place on the web to purchase more hate if your hate runs out.

I'll send you some, I have plenty to spare.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2009


My initial reaction was, only hundreds? Out of six billion? There are probably hundreds of people, across the globe, that dream about me every night without even imagining that I really exist.

After reading the more-inside links: Bill Hicks--still relevant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2009


Art sometimes is done to you, by people manipulating you.

That's fine, but if the purpose of it is to sell me something, I would like it if they would tell me up front, so I can decide whether I want to watch an ad or not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on October 15, 2009


Looks like David Ferrie to me.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:57 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think xmutex articulates it well, but to add -- the biggest problem with thisman campaign is that they got caught right away. Other than that, it look a lot better than timecube.

Really. Tens of thousands, maybe millions of marketing campaigns are generated every week. You gotta figure that at least one of them is not going to go over well.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2009


I skimmed through the website and still don't understand. What are they marketing, nightmare fuel?

A horror/suspense movie about the dude-in-the-dreams?
posted by jayder at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2009


Since this is a remake, the audience already knows the spoiler, so the desired result is that the audience asks, "Oh, that! I remember that! I remember that I liked that, so I'll watch this. I wonder how this will be new?"

The two approaches might not be mutually exclusive. For example, you could have subway posters advertising a special edition DVD of the original. And then little by little over the course of a month, spraypainted messages start appearing over the posters, like "This is real" or something. You could have TV commercials for the original show getting scrambled and garbled.

When I think campaigns like this succeed - and without having any numbers in front of me, I'm really just basing this on what works for me - is when there's still some missing piece to the puzzle, some mystery that can only be solved by watching the movie. The AI campaign was wonderfully ambitious, but ultimately failed because it didn't connect with the plot of the movie in any substantial way. The Cloverfield campaign, on the other hand, was successful because it sparked a huge amount of curiosity about the movie.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2009


Too bad everybody already made the TP jokes. I was gonna say ...

Unfortunately, I dream of this man. He keeps asking "Can I come in?"

I'm starting to really hate the [more inside] feature. It's supposed to be for "more info" not "hahahaha i gotcha info."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2009


Looks like David Ferrie to me.

And I was thinking it might be John Saxon. I found him when looking for David L. Lander (aka Squiggy), and found this blog post with other random headshots.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2009


"Art sometimes is done to you, by people manipulating you."

All communication is an attempt to manipulate. Some is genuine, & legitimate. Some is not.
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of art is deceit. You know the line, all writers are liars.

Disagree. A lot of art is artifice. But they aren't exactly the same thing.

Art informs us on an emotional level and success or failure is judged first by the artist and then by those who consume the art. And I hate to break this to all of you who believe wholly different things, but advertising is art. Advertising uses the same application of emotionally informing principles that Van Gogh, Charles Bukowski, Annie Lebowitz, and Dash Snow use.

It's created by a process informed by aesthetics, psychology, and sociology in equal measure. Advertising is a natural extension of art. If the purpose of art is to get us to feel something and examine that feeling. The purpose of advertising is to get us to feel something and then go do something about that feeling. In both cases, art or advertising, the art object's ultimate goal is to motivate us toward something.

And while I'm a little confused about what these people are actually selling, I'm just baffled at how drawn in I was. And that felt exciting. It reminded me of the 30 minute "documentary" I saw on the SciFi channel about a supernatural phenomenon I'd never heard about. Something about "the blair witch". I enjoyed that thirty minutes. And I enjoyed the movie. So I may not be the first to say it, but I definitely won't be the last, "I am ready to enjoy advertising as I do any other art."

Now if we can just get all these MBAs and art school dropouts out of the business.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Advertising is not art just because you say it is.

If the purpose of art is to get us to feel something and examine that feeling.

Art exists for its own purpose. Advertising does not.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Art exists for its own purpose. Advertising does not.

What does existing for its own purpose mean?
posted by xmutex at 1:49 PM on October 15, 2009


I work in advertising, and I'm a bit taken aback by the visceral levels of hate here.

I mean, I know hating advertising is trendy and Bill Hicks told you to do it and all, but there's nothing more wrong with "viral" marketing than there was with radio soap operas, newspapers, network television or the Medicis making subtle suggestions about what the artists they patronized should paint.

For what it's worth, marketing companies that position themselves with statements like "an advertising agency that uses non-conventional communication techniques, like the creation of fictitious events or campaigns reaching the limits of legality, through which they 'fuck the market in order to enter it'." even trigger my gag reflex.

But here's the thing about viral marketing you need to remember:

It doesn't work.

Sure, it pulls eyeballs, and in the event of a launch or a significant shift in a product or service -- or even a particularly brilliant idea for a tired brand -- it can give you a temporary sales spike.

But it doesn't really work. If your product or service is crappy, truth will inevitably out and said crap will get flushed.

In fact, most "viral" marketing results in a dual fail: a bad idea as a product/service flails for something "hip" to help its failing self, has bad ideas about how to "go viral," fails at that in turn, and then collapses in a heap of useless, having spent all its resources trying to trick people into liking it.

You cannot, ultimately, trick anybody into liking your stuff. Your stuff has to have some merit.

The funny thing is that a bunch of the folks here weeping bitter tears over having their virgin eyes deceived by gutter advertising (horrors!) probably remember some viral stunts fondly. In some cases, they may never have become aware they were viral stunts.

The original Blair Witch Project, for instance, had its narrative enhanced and the experience broadened through its (dun dun dunnnnn!) viral marketing campaign.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force exposed the Boston administration as a bunch of quivering doofs with its (dun dun dunnnn!) viral marketing campaign.

Now, one of those movies was good. And one of those movies was shit. Both had a high-impact, high-spread viral campaigns.

Which of the two movies succeeded?

The non-shit movie.

At least the marketers are trying to stretch themselves here; on occasion, the results can be brilliant (I thought that The Hire was a brilliant series. Did I walk away from it groaning "Muuuust buuuy BMW"? Hell, no.) A case where a big company gave some folks a shit-ton of money for "viral marketing," they made some great little movies, and at the end of the day nobody bought more BMWs than they were going to in the first place.

If you're worried that you're so wetbrained that somebody can give you several minutes of quality, thought-provoking entertainment, then end it with "Drink Poop!" and your only response will be to stagger to the toilet and start slurping, viral marketing ain't your problem.

"Oh no! I saw something awesome and it turned out to promote a product! They tricked me! How dare they!?!"

Fuck, dude, you saw something awesome. Who cares whether or not it was to sell a product? Don't you trust yourself enough to enjoy an experience and not fall hook, line and sinker for whatever piece of crap they tack on the end?

Have some faith in yourself. Enjoy the ride. Nobody's going to make you do anything at the end of it.
posted by Shepherd at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Advertising is not art just because you say it is.

If the purpose of art is to get us to feel something and examine that feeling.

Art exists for its own purpose. Advertising does not.


Renaissance Art is, largely and in a certain sense, advertisements for the church.

Art is never created in a vacuum and the belief that it solely "exists for its own purpose" is naive, at best.

So in response I say, Art is not Advertising just because you say it isn't.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have some faith in yourself. Enjoy the ride. Nobody's going to make you do anything at the end of it.

OK I read your comment. Now what do I have to buy?
posted by xmutex at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, to look at it another way:

1. I draw a lot of cute cartoons of cows and put them on the Internet for fun, and give them a Creative Commons license because I'm a sharing sort. People love my cows! They share them and e-mail them and add them to their own pages. Eventually, I think that so many people love my cows that I can quit my day job and sell my books of cow drawings. I give it a shot, and my cow drawings are a huge hit and I sell lots of books!

I am: INTERNET SUPERHERO

2. I draw a lot of cute cartoons of cows and put them in a book. But I don't know how to get enough people to buy my book, so I post my cow drawings on the Internet and give them a Creative Commons license so that people will share my cows and spread the word about my awesome cow drawings. Eventually, I think that so many people love my cows that I can quit my day job and sell my books of cow drawings. I give it a shot, and my cow drawings are a huge hit and I sell lots of books!

I am: VIRAL MARKETER SCUMFUCK THAT DESERVES DEATH.

In both cases, I'm the same dude, same drawings, and the end user has the exact same experience. But by the standards set according to the haters in the thread, the mere intent of trying to eventually sell a book of drawings when I share my cow drawings makes me evil.

It's not a very nuanced view of the world.
posted by Shepherd at 2:13 PM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


What does existing for its own purpose mean?

To me, it means something was created for the sake of being created; that is, its only reason to be is to be, if that makes sense. It's not exactly necessary that the thing exists, but it does, and that's enough. It might have secondary functions, and sometimes it might try to make a statement, but that's not really why it's there. It's there because it wasn't before, and didn't have to be, but it could, and so it was. It's something that exists to exist, because existing is awesome and reason enough to do it.

(Note: I do not claim to know what mrgrimm meant by his comment, nor do I claim to make any sense at all. This is merely my best attempt at conveying what I meant when I said something similar upthread.)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, this is why I love Metafilter. I hear about this dream man on the local radio station, and wonder 'what the hell'. Log in to MeFi, see this thread, see it debunked as viral, and now I feel fully justified in laughing at the credulous radio people. Ha ha!
posted by sandraregina at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2009


Fuck, dude, you saw something awesome. Who cares whether or not it was to sell a product?

Except marketers are lazy, and it's easier to fire up 3d studio max than to actually create something awesome. Remember the biggest drawing in the world? A bit awesome right? Too bad it was faked. I don't directly care whether something is used to sell a product; I do care, however, about whether things are true, and being produced as an advertisement is usually pretty strong evidence for a hoax.
posted by Pyry at 2:28 PM on October 15, 2009


Typically, Art is presumed to be a permanent cultural artifact to be cherished and studied and preserved, whereas advertising is usually presumed to be an ephemeral commercial product to line landfills.

Often, once the Art/Ad is released into the wild, such presumptions prove false.

The thing is, advertisements are specifically designed and exhibited to be noticed and remembered, and they're shoved in everyone's face constantly. Art, on the other hand, is very often hidden away in vaults or in private collections, and even when put on display, commands an admission charge. (This was true until quite recently of not only visual art, but also the likes of music and film.) Futhermore, to fully appreciate much Art, often one must be highly educated and well versed in the language of that Art.

Consequently, Advertising is inherently more effective art than Art is.

And that's not even accounting for the fact that much of today's Art is utterly dependent on Advertising for both funding and publicity, and often even serves as a medium for more Advertising.

Like it or not—I don't—the ads win.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2009


Shepherd: "Oh no! I saw something awesome and it turned out to promote a product! They tricked me! How dare they!?!"

Fuck, dude, you saw something awesome. Who cares whether or not it was to sell a product? Don't you trust yourself enough to enjoy an experience and not fall hook, line and sinker for whatever piece of crap they tack on the end?


For me, at least, the thing itself was awesome because I initially (and foolishly) thought that it could possibly be real--that is, that there actually were a number of people who actually had recurring dreams in which they all actually saw the same guy, because, wow. What a mindfuck. That shit's crazy! How the fuck does that shit happen?

To find out that it's not real, however, takes that awesomeness away, because now I know how that shit happens--someone makes it up. But people make up a lot of things, many of them weird and impossible, yet made up all the same. It's no longer novel. It's not something unexplainable that happened, it's something odd someone made up.

It's like discovering the Dyatlov Pass Incident in all its mindfucking glory, then being told it was all an ad for a Russian horror movie. Yeah, it's a cool idea, but fuck you guys for taking away my magic.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 2:39 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


For me, at least, the thing itself was awesome because I initially (and foolishly) thought that it could possibly be real--that is, that there actually were a number of people who actually had recurring dreams in which they all actually saw the same guy, because, wow. What a mindfuck. That shit's crazy! How the fuck does that shit happen?

So if you read an artfully rendered piece of fiction about such a scenario, you'd totally be pissed because it was just fiction?
posted by xmutex at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also: I'd never heard of the Dyatlov Pass incident. That's fucking awesome.
posted by xmutex at 2:45 PM on October 15, 2009


In both cases, I'm the same dude, same drawings, and the end user has the exact same experience. But by the standards set according to the haters in the thread, the mere intent of trying to eventually sell a book of drawings when I share my cow drawings makes me evil.

It's not a very nuanced view of the world.


As far as I can tell, it's actually far more nuanced (and, I daresay, reasonable) than the intent is irrelevant/honesty means nothing/exploitation=friendship/criticism=hate view you've got going there.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2009


So if you read an artfully rendered piece of fiction about such a scenario, you'd totally be pissed because it was just fiction?

No, because it was artfully rendered, which was part of my point (although in writing and editing and re-writing my comment, I didn't get it across too well). The amount of completely inexplicable, jaw-droppingly crazy stuff that really happens is much, much less than the amount of fiction written about things that would be jaw-droppingly crazy if it happened, and so there's a much higher standard to hold it to.

For example: If you actually encountered a family of super-old, super-rich vampire immortals who were crazy strong and sparkled in sunlight, wouldn't that be fucking awesome? It would! You'd be all like OMGWTFVAMPIRES NO WAI, because vampires don't exist. Does that mean Twilight doesn't suck donkey dong? No, it does not.

Simply making up something crazy doesn't make it awesome. You have to handle it well, too--better than you'd have to if it were real. "Mysterious dream man" as real occurrence? Fucking awesome. "Mysterious dream man" as book/movie/ad premise? That's not a bad start--now give me more.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2009


What does existing for its own purpose mean?

Captain Cardanthian!'s explanation is good enough for me: its only purpose or intention is to be. Once you start trying to motivate or sway opinion, that's propaganda or advertising.

Of course, propaganda and advertising certainly have artistic merit, but they are not art. In my opinion, there is a semantic difference.

I realize that lots of people have been discussing art and advertising forever, and it is not a simple subject (i.e. what about an advert for art?), so I apologize for presenting such a facile reduction of my opinion.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009


As far as I can tell, it's actually far more nuanced (and, I daresay, reasonable) than the intent is irrelevant/honesty means nothing/exploitation=friendship/criticism=hate view you've got going there.

I don't recall saying any of those things. Please point out where I said that "honesty means nothing" or "exploitation=friendship."
posted by Shepherd at 3:21 PM on October 15, 2009


Captain Cardanthian!'s explanation is good enough for me: its only purpose or intention is to be. Once you start trying to motivate or sway opinion, that's propaganda or advertising.

Objects do not have purposes or intentions. People do, and you can't verily say you know someone's intentions and purposes.
posted by xmutex at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2009


Well, if it's an ad, it failed with me. I looked at the picture and wasn't intrigued enough to click a link. Now that I know it's selling something, I don't care any more.

And the FPP is participating in the campaign, in case no one noticed.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Objects do not have purposes or intentions. People do, and you can't verily say you know someone's intentions and purposes.

Sure you can. How do you think our legal system works? You're suggesting I don't know the purpose of an advertiser?

And what? Objects don't have purposes? So this pencil I'm holding, it's not for making marks on paper or other surfaces? Hmm. Maybe it's a magic wand ...

Yes, no one knows everything. No, nothing is always black and white (i.e. "This is ART!" "This is NOT ART!") But I still don't think advertising should be called art.

Futhermore, to fully appreciate much Art, often one must be highly educated and well versed in the language of that Art.

Completely disagree. I appreciate all sorts of art I do not understand one bit.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2009


And what? Objects don't have purposes? So this pencil I'm holding, it's not for making marks on paper or other surfaces? Hmm. Maybe it's a magic wand ...

No, they don't. You have a purpose for which you use the pencil. The pencil has no inherent purpose. Drop the pencil into some kind of tribe or village who has never seen a pencil and see what they use it for.
posted by xmutex at 4:51 PM on October 15, 2009


Drop an advertisement into some kind of tribe or village who has never seen western writing and see what they use it for.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:07 PM on October 15, 2009


Oh wait. I think I agree with you.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2009


Far too late for this thread, I'm afraid, but I came in here already miffed that people were painting everyone in my chosen profession with a broad, nasty, anti-intellectual brush -- in some cases, surprisingly -- and proceeded to post with a chip on my shoulder.

So I'd like to take a step back and explain, from my perspective, why this kind of "viral marketing" might come about.

With the obvious caveats that I'm putting this in the context of the agency I work for (which is pretty old-school in terms of classical values and a blend of old-media approaches), and casting this at An Anonymous Ad Agency with fictional characters playing the various roles. Also without knowing the ultimate aim or product of the "viral" ad in the FPP.

So: a client comes to us with a movie they've got in production -- a psychological horror feature about, say, a demented little person that dresses as a ballerina and invades your dreams.

Their mandate is to create a campaign that will interest both men and women aged 18-35, with particular attention paid to the "psychological" end of the film -- they want a campaign that underlines the "this gets into your head" element of the story. They're huge on the Internet, which we don't always think is a good option -- Web campaigns have a worse success ratio than a well-executed print or other media campaign -- but they've got some MBA in marketing that really wants us to push the Internet angle and keeps raving about "Snakes on a Plane," apparently not knowing how that turned out financially.

We have about a week to create a pitch, which means going from this brief to material that's polished enough that we feel it can accurately represent our ideas to the client, and hopefully beat out other agencies that want this job.

We start with a meeting. I'm the creative strategist at the agency, which is a mix of being a copywriter and a client liason for creative stuff (while the account managers work with the clients for financial and placement stuff). So I'm at the meeting. We also have a couple of graphic designers, and the aforementioned account managers -- they are instrumental in keeping the brief and budget in mind, and making sure the creative guys don't go too nuts when coming up with wild ideas. I've also got a junior copywiter with a talent for lateral thinking there.

"Okay," the account manager says, "we've all seen the screening copy of the film. What do we really think stands out? What represents the film to you?"

We toss around some stuff -- a ballerina dress stained with blood that figures heavily in the final scene, the little person's weapon of choice (a collection of '70s vintage Hot Wheels toy cars), the way the film addresses the fundamental schism between thought and action, the Bergmanesque opening scene with the black and white daffodils wilting under the desert sun. A lot of great stuff in this movie, and a lot of angles that can really make this work.

Big themes. "How about dream analysis?" one of the graphics guys asks. "There's a lot of great symbolism in the film -- I could tie that into the film's main site, have a thing where you can pick out various iconic images from the movie, and it shows you what those mean when you seem in dreams."

"That's neat," says the copywriter.

"Too Nightmare on Elm Street?" the account manager asks. "That territory is pretty well staked out."

"Okay," I say, "this ballerina outfit thing. I think that's great. If we let people upload their own photos, put them in the ballerina dress --"

"God no," another designer says. She's against the idea; in fact, she thinks the whole ballerina thing is stupid and unworkable as a hook for the film as a whole.

"Just images?" the graphics guy says again. "Ten-second clips of the most stellar moments of the film, looped silent through banner ads across the Web?"

"Project Wonderful or some similar service would be a good venue for that," the copywriter says.

"Hard to track actual metrics with that," the account manager says. "The client will really want to see numbers -- guaranteed circulation."

"I think a dedicated micro-site is the way to go," the second designer says. She's had a lot of success building sites for clients in the past -- single-serving sites for clients running special contests or promotions. "Some sort of hypnotic image from the film, just looping on the Internet forever. The idea that the little person ballerina Hot Wheels murderer is trying to attain immortality is interesting -- a permanent loop on a Web site wouldn't cost much to maintain and would really speak to that theme."

"I like the micro-site," I say, "but I can't shake the feeling that we need to tie more directly into the movie itself."

"What's really sticking with me," the graphics guy says, "is that guy's face. It's haunting, especially when he gets into that fugue state."

"That face is creepy," says I.

"That guy will haunt my dreams", the copywriter says. "It'll haunt a lot of people's dreams."

A hush falls over the room. "Saaaayyyy..." a graphic designer says. "You know, I''ve had nightmares that guy could have been in."

"Yeah," I say. "I bet a ton of people have had dreams with creepy faces in them. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest a lot of people have been dreaming of..."

"...that guy," the account manager says. "That's really cool."

"So what if we just ask people?" the graphic designer asks. "Just put up a page and see how it rolls, asking if they've seen this guy in their dreams?"

"We can really create a mythology around it," the copywriter says. "Really add to the whole movie."

"But if it's just an ad for the movie, it's just something that says 'HEY, IT'S A CREEPY DUDE! NOW SEE THIS MOVIE WITH A CREEPY DUDE IN IT'," the account manager says. "I hate to say it, but this only works if we really soft-pedal the movie."

"Well, what if we just don't mention the movie? Like, at all?" the graphics guy asks. "Then, when the movie rolls out, people will recognize the face on the posters and be all 'hey, that's that guy from the freaky website!'"

"That's pretty solid," I say. "We can add a lot of depth and resonance to the movie and really get behind what makes it so damn scary."

(...)

From there, the steps to "thisman.org" are pretty easy to trace.

Note that nobody, at any point, rubbed their hands together and said "let's con people into thinking there's this cool experience but really it's just a fucking ad! Bwaaaah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!"

This is, again, pure fiction. I have no idea what the product/service that may have led to thisman.org being created, or what the creative process behind the site was. I'm just trying to lay out a plausible scenario where (a) the people behind the site are trying their best to add value to what would otherwise be a pretty blah movie ad; (b) nobody is setting out with the intent to harm anyone by yanking away a curtain to say "fuck you! It's an ad!"; and (c) where there are a lot of factors in play, such as the desire to please a client (and get paid, and eat, and survive), the desire to do as creative a work as possible within the parameters the client sets, and the desire to create something that actually adds meaning and relevance to the end product, as opposed to just blat out "BUY THIS IT IS AWESOME."

Advertising people aren't evil. They're working at a job, and doing the best they can in the context of their work. I don't think what I do is evil. I think some aspects of my profession are morally dubious, which is something I wrestle with as much as I'd wrestle with them if I were a lawyer, a politician, a private-practice physician or a publicist.

Frankly, I think the Web would be a thousand times better if people who can only think about it in terms of marketing where spontaneously electrocuted the moment they logged on.

intent is irrelevant/honesty means nothing/exploitation=friendship/

I don't think it is possible to hate marketing/marketers enough. There should be a place on the web to purchase more hate if your hate runs out.

Those are bullshit statements from people I'm surprised at -- people I would normally assume have enough dencency, intelligence and nuance not to wish death on, ascribe abhorrent beliefs to, or advocate hate for entire swaths of people.

Honestly, it's disappointing.
posted by Shepherd at 5:26 PM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's not a very nuanced view of the world.

Well, sure, when you invent a scenario that is deliberately simplistic, and then claim that is the argument somebody else is making, it does become a bit simplistic. That's a handy rhetorical trick, but not an especially fair one. I note, in your example, that your imaginary cowmaker isn't using the cows to sell something else, like detergent. And the cowmaker doesn't seem to be hiding the manufacture of cows. It all seems very aboveboard.

Now, let's recast this scenario. You get an email from somebody you don't know. It says "Dude, check out this awesome video!"

You click on it, and it's an video of what purports to be an actual seance. And it's scary. And you watch, and, for some reason, the spirit is talking about cows.

Six months later, you find out it's an ad for some cow pictures somebody is selling.

Not the same.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:34 PM on October 15, 2009


Well, the /x/ 'tards over at 4chan appear convinced it's viral marketing for a nightmare movie, all right, to wit:

The man is Jackie Earle Haley and it's viral marketing for the new nightmare on elm street.
CASE CLOSED.


Never thought I would find useful information on 4chan (information, that is- 4chan does have its uses, Internet Hate Machine or not.
posted by Pragmatica at 5:44 PM on October 15, 2009


So basically some ad agency is planting the image of a kind of generic authority figure who had what seemed like life and death power over you when you were a child, but now, as an adult, you realize that he was a balding guy with watery eyes who was leading a life of quiet desperation and every thing he did was done to make getting through the day as easy as possible.

That face is creepy because tonight, in your dreams, rather than dreaming of something exciting, or horrific or at least vaguely interesting, your dream might involve sitting next to THIS MAN and he might start telling you about his boyhood ambitions that he squandered away by taking the easiest major he could find in college, the marriage to and unpleasant divorce from his high school sweetheart and would you like to read his half finished manuscript for the great American novel he's working on.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:01 PM on October 15, 2009


Well, sure, when you invent a scenario that is deliberately simplistic(...)

Sure, it's simplistic, and meant to illustrate that the line between INTERNET SUPERHERO and SCUMFUCK MARKETER is a lot thinner than a lot of the rhetoric on this thread might indicate. The difference between my example and yours seems to be an unquantifiable degree of unprovable intent.

To roll with your new scenario: I'm a small-scale detergent-maker, trying to make good. The thing most people find charming about my product, which is just as good as any major-manufacturer detergent, is my charming cow logo (which I designed myself). So, to promote my detergent, I use my charming cow (and lots of other versions of the charming cow) and allow people to distribute my charming cow and use my charming cow and send charming cow postcards.

Then, a year after people have been sending charming cow postcards, I say "hey, Charming Cow is also the mascot for my super awesome detergent! You should try it!"

Is that the point when I can expect you to wish electrocution upon me?

By "nuanced view," I mean it's a matter of degrees between Charming Cow and a weird seance video. Gradual steps, maybe, but I'd be hard pressed to define at what point my thought that this is a misguided campaign turns into the desire to electrocute people.

I'm wondering how many people would try to murder mathowie if he announced, tomorrow, that MetaFilter was actually a bizarrely executed, incredibly labour-intensive campaign to support his lifelong dream of having a cottage-industry t-shirt business. Would that invalidate all of your experiences on this site if he did? Would all of your postings here be as ashes in your mouth?

Not for me. I enjoy MetaFilter as MetaFilter, and even if it's the world's weirdest viral t-shirt sales pitch, it would (a) not invalidate my time here, nor (b) convince me to buy a t-shirt.
posted by Shepherd at 6:03 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a hoax, but it's a well thought out hoax because there are people right here on Mefi who claim to have seen this guy in their dreams. For me, I don't recall this face in my dreams but it is very striking to me.

Look at the features, they're at once oversized but simplified. Huge eyes, huge lips, HUGE eyebrows, small face. It's more of an archetype of a face than a real face. I read Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" a while back, and he has an interesting theory that I think applies here. He says that, starting in very young childhood, we have a very basic concept of what our own face looks like, since we can't see it unless we look in a mirror. So this simplified version of our own faces causes us to relate to the simply drawn characters. A smileyface is about as simple as it gets, but we can recognize emotion even in that.

This drawing simply exploits that baseline concept of our own faces. Some people have theorized that this is the reason people have seen the "Grays", aliens with very simple faces, though with huge eyes.

So this is a really well done (or chosen) drawing...I find it creepy, but I think that's just another illustration trick; the features are enlarged so that this guy in real life would be disturbing to look at.
posted by zardoz at 6:14 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you just expanded those eyebrows and blended them with the eyes, they drawing could be the classic grey alien.
posted by Megafly at 6:50 PM on October 15, 2009


Futhermore, to fully appreciate much Art, often one must be highly educated and well versed in the language of that Art.
Completely disagree. I appreciate all sorts of art I do not understand one bit.
Please reread what you've quoted, making special notice of the following qualifiers: fully, much, often. Also, while you're reading things, go ahead and look up the word appreciate in a dictionary, and appreciate that I wasn't using it the sense you appear to have inferred (i.e. enjoy) but rather as an approximate synonym of understand. Done all that? Okay, now read your comment again.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 PM on October 15, 2009


I'm wondering how many people would try to murder mathowie if he announced, tomorrow, that MetaFilter was actually a bizarrely executed, incredibly labour-intensive campaign to support his lifelong dream of having a cottage-industry t-shirt business.

I might.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Or at least he'd have a severe tickling on its way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:05 PM on October 15, 2009


Am I crazy, or does that face look like the midget Agent Cooper dreamed about in that TWIN PEAKS episode?

Interesting you should say that, because I just realized why this man's face freaked me right the fuck out. He looks like a suspect sketch of Jimmy Fischler, who in Mulholland Drive has a nightmare. About a man's face.

Clip here. (warning: I freely acknowledge that I am a big trembly baby, but this scene SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME.)
posted by granted at 8:33 PM on October 15, 2009


Hey, I have a question. If the kid in the balloon turns out to be a self-promotional stunt, is that just art and we shouldn't get mad about the fact?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on October 15, 2009


I think you make a good point, shepherd, but then again, i used to be an advertising creative.

Funny thing is, I know plenty of people who consider themselves "above" advertising, and resist any attempts at overt marketing, but have "Mad Men" avatars on their facebook pages and will most likely see "where the wild things are" opening weekend. As long as the sausage is in their mouths before you tell them the ingredients, they'll eat it up.

Speaking of breakfast meat, The whole "extreme love of bacon" thing, especially in it's online meme form is one that I'm not entirely convinced isn't being helped along by somebody who owns a lot of pigs. Yes, bacon is tasty, but the elevation of bacon to cultural signifier dovetails a little too nicely with the latest great leap forward in the industrialization of the pork industry.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:04 PM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I saw the site after following a Twitter link a couple of days ago, and was thinking of posting an Ask MeFi about it — not because of the dream crap or the viral marketing angle, but because the second I saw "that man" I got cold chills, freaked and had to close the browser tab. I can't even click the link now; I'm too damn creeped out.

I have the exact same reaction to a handful of other things, including seeing stills of the "Captain Howdy" frames from The Exorcist, and hearing recordings of shortwave numbers stations (I can't get more than thirty seconds or so into any track on The Conet Project). Even postin about it now I'm having a serious involuntary fear reaction; goosebumps, chills, snot and tears, the whole magilla.

I know I'm not alone in this as I've been in online discussions with others who have similar reactions to, say, numbers stations. What the hell is up with that?
posted by Lazlo at 1:15 AM on October 16, 2009


Hey, I have a question. If the kid in the balloon turns out to be a self-promotional stunt, is that just art and we shouldn't get mad about the fact?

I think you're perfectly entitled to call it bad marketing (or bad art), and to get tremendously upset and tell that family that it was a terrible idea and they should feel awful about doing it, and proceed to never support them by buying their products or using their services ever again. Go for it!

But I also think that extending that to "all marketers are bad people" or wishing electrocution on everybody who has ever engaged in any sort of publicity stunt is where you cross the line into Lazy Hate.
posted by Shepherd at 3:32 AM on October 16, 2009


Is it really a lazy hate, Shepherd? Or is it just good old-fashioned anger at people who make their living off of messing with people's heads to sell shit? I have no doubt about the skills of all involved. Some pretty damn amazing stuff can be produced by viral/ad people.

However, I hate feeling tricked; as if I couldn't evaluate a service and/or product and come to my own conclusions. I find it pretty damned offensive but not nearly as offensive as treating advertising like some high art that we don't "get."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:28 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I also think that extending that to "all marketers are bad people" or wishing electrocution on everybody who has ever engaged in any sort of publicity stunt is where you cross the line into Lazy Hate.

You'd be right if I said any of those things.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:53 AM on October 16, 2009


It's Brian Eno.
posted by Oireachtac at 9:53 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it really a lazy hate, Shepherd? Or is it just good old-fashioned anger at people who make their living off of messing with people's heads to sell shit? I have no doubt about the skills of all involved. Some pretty damn amazing stuff can be produced by viral/ad people.

However, I hate feeling tricked; as if I couldn't evaluate a service and/or product and come to my own conclusions. I find it pretty damned offensive but not nearly as offensive as treating advertising like some high art that we don't "get."


Well... yes to the "lazy" question. There's a lot of "I hate marketers! Graaar! Electrocute them!" in this thread, which I think is slack thinking. There's very little tolerance for that sort of thing on this site when it comes to broad HIPPIES AMIRITE and LAWYERS AMIRITE smearing, which is one of the things I like about MetaFilter, so MARKETERS AMIRITE seems a bit jarring when people generally seem to spend a lot of time and thought here trying not to turn broad swaths of humanity into hateful shorthand stereotypes.

That being said, I'm right with you on the hating-to-be-tricked thing. I just think there's room to believe that this wasn't a campaign conceived by a moustache-twirling villain out to pull the rug out from under you, and there are plenty of reasons that somebody might be doing this because they think it's neat and cool and haven't really thought through the consequences.

If the number of people that say "Arrgh! Tricked! Fuck you, Product X!" outweigh the number of people that say "Wow! Neat! Thank you, Product X!" then the campaign was a stupid idea. And vice-versa. At the end of the day, some company gave some other people money to try something cool, and I'd rather live in a world where people are trying to make things more interesting rather than less. So I look at viral marketing as a net win, even when I get irked at feeling like somebody has duped me into watching an ad for Ruffles or something.

I'm not part of the "advertising as high art you just don't get" brigade; I'm on the "advertisers are a diverse group of people with diverse motives that might not all be evil" brigade, so I can't really address your second point.

[and]

You'd be right if I said any of those things.

Dude, upthread you said that "Frankly, I think the Web would be a thousand times better if people who can only think about it in terms of marketing where spontaneously electrocuted the moment they logged on." Because somebody put up a Web site with a face on it. I figured that, given your eager desire to electrocute people for misuse of the Web, in the face of a national mass-media hoax (were this balloon thing a hoax) you might be champing at the bit to wish electrocution on people that engage in publicity stunts for marketing reasons as well.

I was obviously misreading your criteria for electrocution wishes, so my bad.

Seriously, though -- I'm definitely conflating some of what you're saying with the general anti-marketing vibe, and apologize for that insamuch as I am doing it. It's jerky of me and I'll knock it off.
posted by Shepherd at 10:28 AM on October 16, 2009


I would just like to take this opportunity to wave some Barker's Beauties hands over Shepherd's username. Ruminate on that, sheeple!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:56 AM on October 16, 2009


The jawline and mouth actually look like someone who tried to kill me. If I dream about that man, they are not dreams I remember.

Other parts of "THIS MAN" remind me of a childhood friend.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:37 PM on October 16, 2009


somebody might be doing this because they think it's neat and cool and haven't really thought through the consequences.

That line describes nearly my entire philosophy on software development which would explain why I no longer do it. hehehe.

Shepard, I really appreciate your input in this thread. Unless....it was a viral ad... Was it?
Seriously though. Thanks. Some very good stuff.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2009


The jawline and mouth actually look like someone who tried to kill me.

Michael Jackson tried to kill you?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:48 PM on October 16, 2009


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