July 31, 2002
4:02 AM   Subscribe

Attractive people planted in bars are being paid to chat you up...about the New Sony Ericsson T68i!

and so am I
posted by luser (35 comments total)
Kidding! Kidding!
posted by luser at 4:03 AM on July 31, 2002

"It's deceptive," says Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit organization founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, when told about the campaign. "People will be fooled into thinking this is honest buzz."

Honest... buzz? *shakes head*

I really don't see anything wrong with this. Sure, it's weird, but they sure as hell won't be able to make false claims about the product when people will be able to interact with it so closely. Plus it's giving work to actors, which I'm always in favor of.

Though I must admit, the first thing I thought of was Moe's encounter with the Bacardi woman.
posted by toddshot at 4:15 AM on July 31, 2002

Finally all those unemployed theater-major friends of mine can look forward to careers.
posted by alumshubby at 4:16 AM on July 31, 2002

It's like real-life pop-up advertising.
posted by precocious at 4:32 AM on July 31, 2002

precocious: It's like real-life pop-up advertising.

Almost, except it does it's best to blend in with the context.
posted by anathema at 4:48 AM on July 31, 2002

if its not built in i aint interested oooooh yeah
posted by monkeyJuice at 4:52 AM on July 31, 2002

Hang on -- you're telling me I could get paid for sitting alone in bars and playing games on my mobile phone?
posted by chrismear at 4:54 AM on July 31, 2002

Only if you're good looking.
posted by jonathanbell at 5:10 AM on July 31, 2002

Chalk this one up with the various Amway reps who've joined in on other peoples' conversations, the answering machine advertisements which refer to you by your first name, and the Herbalife endorsed ads for college students.

And of course, there's the "complimentary I.Q. tests" provided by the H^H^H^H^H^ Salvation Navy.

Viral marketing's been in effect for quite some time, as evidenced by the Fuller Brush Man, the Avon, Mary Kaye & Tupperware ladies, Those Roadside Ads/That Were the Fad/When Grandpa was a lad, and of course, aerial banners.

At least dumb looks are still free, but if you act now...
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:21 AM on July 31, 2002

Let me get this straight:
- I don't have to see the "advertisement" if I don't want to
- I get a chance to actually use the product if I accept the "advertising"
- someone trained in all the features will be there to answer questions
- I can end the "advertisement" at any time
- There is no product to be sold at the point of "advertising", so I won't be subjected to a sales pitch

Explain to me again why this would be considered a bad thing?
posted by Grum at 5:22 AM on July 31, 2002

Man, sometimes, as a tech dork, I'd walk up to people in stores to "plug" products I like, bcause I liked them. This seemed like a natural thing to do to ensure that others saw the advantages / disadvantages of certain tech choices. This behavior is rampant at stores like J and R in NYC.

But I'm probably not good looking enough to make a career out of this. Guess I won't be doing this anymore.

Good products win because they're actually useful.

Cell-phones with cameras attached are pretty fucking dumb -- the TV ad shows a wife taking pictures of food she's cooked to lure a poker-playing husband home. That kind of shit comes up every day. I think that the "campagin" will backfire -- showing users just how useless the camera + phone appliance is. And $399?! Come on?!
posted by zpousman at 5:23 AM on July 31, 2002

bow to the gimmicks
posted by monkeyJuice at 5:34 AM on July 31, 2002

This phenomenon has been talked about here before, but damn me to a beerless hell if I can find where...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:40 AM on July 31, 2002

Grum wrote: Explain to me again why this would be considered a bad thing?
From the article: Still, the company [Ericsson] has gone to great lengths to train its actors to avoid detection.
Veteran marketers warn that [the] ... product will do better in the long run if they [Ericsson] are honest with consumers.
This technique is fundamentally deceptive. The company is tricking people into using the product. And the old adage about starting a relationship with a lie seems to me to apply here.
posted by piskycritter at 5:41 AM on July 31, 2002

Cell phones and cameras are stupid. Cell phones and PDAs are even stupider. Give me a cell phone with a semi-decent phone book memory and I'll be happy.

"Yeah, I'm looking at it right now. Let me take a picture of it. Oh, right, my camera is next to my head."

"Hang on, I'll right down your phone number. Oh, my PDA is next to my head."

The first time I saw someone trying to copy information down into a Palm powered cell phone while talking to the person, them moving the phone from ear to in front of eyes, back and forth, I nearly died laughing.
posted by benjh at 5:43 AM on July 31, 2002

zpousman: mobile phones with cameras are actually genius. Especially when (using MMS) you can embed Sound clips and text in with them. It's instant partay (and yes that's a deliberate mispelling) fun!

Although the Nokia 7650 referenced earlier in the thread and SonyEricsson p800 are much better examples of the form as they have internal cameras.

I'm really looking forward to an MMS to Blogger API app that'll allow me to photolog remotely. That'd be really cool for just catching the normal everyday things when you never have a camera with you. or at least if you take your mobile everywhere like I do.
posted by nedrichards at 5:46 AM on July 31, 2002

benjh: that's the wonder of hands free (bluetooth hands free if you're rich). and if you don't use hands free using a smartphone or mediaphone then you're increadibly stupid and deserve to look that silly.
posted by nedrichards at 5:47 AM on July 31, 2002

Justin Hall writes a bit about his picture-phone at http://www.links.net

Frankly, I think they're kinda cool.
posted by mecran01 at 5:54 AM on July 31, 2002

I've got no problem with this -- except maybe advertising in a bar. Seems a bit unfair. I mean ... some nights, catch me on late enough in the evening and I'm likely to buy nekkid pix of Janet Reno.
posted by RavinDave at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2002

David Ditzel of TransMeta once proclaimed that he had learned the difference between hype and buzz: "Buzz is when you're quiet and someone else talks about you."

This is hype. (and not the good, fresh-prince-of-bel-air era kind of hype)
posted by krunk at 6:07 AM on July 31, 2002

You mean the women in the Budweiser bikinis don't go to bars dressed like that all the time?
posted by m@ at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2002

This could be the premise of a romantic comedy. Sad sack John Cusack -- who happens to be a buyer for a major consumer electronics store chain -- walks into a bar and falls in love at first sight with desperate aspiring actress played by Brittany "I'll Never Tell" Murphy. But she's there on an undercover mission to sell him a camera-phone! She gets drunk and he walks her home, maybe saving her from a robber or rapist along the way. The day after the fateful meeting, she tells her quirky best friend (Joan Cusak, of course) -- who is also the Marketing Manager for Ericsson -- that this sale could be huge, HUGE, and besides, she kind of likes the guy! So not only does she want to please her friend, the most successful actor in this campaign gets to star in the company's commercials, so it'd be wise for her to get it on with this guy and subtly push product. Brittany nurtures the romance/sale, but finds herself falling in love. She thinks she can have it both ways, but boy howdy, is she mistaken! A comedy of errors ensues, he finds out the truth, confronts her, and retreats. In the meanwhile, a hot yet scheming fellow actor in the campaign -- played by Casey Affleck -- has landed the commercials and somehow gotten Joan fired. She gazes longingly into her phone at the 72dpi thumbnail she took of John that first night. Eventually, she begs for his forgiveness (should she be standing in the rain while this happens?). In the denouement, he asks her to marry him ... using the phone's built-in text messaging system!
posted by kmel at 7:09 AM on July 31, 2002


I'm weeping here.
posted by DragonBoy at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2002

I just got a new Ericsson phone the other day (signed up with a shared plan with my SO at the AT&T Wireless store). It's just one of their older, less sexy models, but still.

Why do I feel dirty?
posted by beth at 7:39 AM on July 31, 2002

Isn't the T68 the one that you can get the wireless earpiece for? Screw Battleship and digital camera bullshit, I wanna be lookin all futuristic, like in the minority report.
posted by schlaager at 7:52 AM on July 31, 2002

kmel, that was perfect
posted by lotsofno at 8:19 AM on July 31, 2002

This stuff has been going on in San Francisco bars since the days of Zima. You meet someone...someone who seems actually interested in what you have to say...you think you're gonna get some action...and it turns out they're just trying to get you to drink some alcohol-and-sugar concoction. Most people don't even know it's happening...they just figure they struck out.

Never happened to me, mind you...I can smell a salesperson at 50 feet.

These guys/gals, along with pharmaceutical salespeople (whom I have caught doing this kind of thing with people in hospitals and doctors' offices), should be our next secret detainees.
posted by troybob at 9:17 AM on July 31, 2002

Where's my payments? I get asked questions *all the time* about toys like my digital camera and my PDA, and with the types of questions they ask it almost starts sounding like a sales pitch. ("See! It shows you the picture you just took!")

Maybe I should take better care to avoid places with technically-ignorant people.

Checked out the sales lit for the phone, though, and I'd buy one if I didn't have to pay over $600 and worry about all the questions I'd get about my latest techie toy.

Hey! Maybe they should give discounts to people willing to talk up the products once they've bought them! I'd be willing to be a corporate whore if it meant I got my toys for free or cheap.
posted by illusionaire at 9:37 AM on July 31, 2002

I propose a movement to "out" these people. As soon as someone find out about the person, have them loudly proclaim what's going on to anyone who'll listen.

As for the campaign itself, I just think it's kind of weird and funny. Not that it would affect me. I don't tend to get into detailed discussions about gadgets with total strangers.
posted by Su at 9:49 AM on July 31, 2002

"Oh, I see, you're a rep for Chewlie's Gum..."
posted by hob at 11:00 AM on July 31, 2002

kmel, don't be suprised if you actually see that movie one day.

I'm with Su, out them.
posted by dabitch at 12:34 PM on July 31, 2002

I'm actually planning on getting a T68i probably in the next month or so, without needing a hot girl to make me like it.

I've been trying to figure out for a long time why the cell phone market in the US is just so weak. We are a steady 1 or 2 GENERATIONS behind Europe and particularly Asia, and I just can't see why.

I think part of it is that a lot of people like benjh above just want a simple phone that doesn't really do anything. But I urge you to check out what the latest Japanese cell phones can do! They are tiny, weightless, have beautiful large color screens, amazingly good sound quality (good enough to play music on), features out the ass and so on. You can do email, take pictures, play music, browse the web... and it's not like they are ridiculously expensive. It can actually be fun to play with these phones.

But I digress. The T68i is probably the most "caught up" phone to ever hit the US, and the screen on my Nokia 8290 is busted (consequently, I've learnd how to use a Nokia phone on audio cues only), so I figure why not..
posted by swank6 at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2002

Explain to me again why this would be considered a bad thing?

because honest buzz is one of the only "marketing" things you can trust. (which is why sony's trying to dupe you into thinking that's what this is.) if this campaign succeeds, say goodbye to it.

"Hang on, I'll right down your phone number. Oh, my PDA is next to my head."

it's called a headset. you put it in your ear and write on the pda the same way you always do. it's really not that complicated. for someone who HAS to carry a pda and a phone, the combo is quite useful.

I wanna be lookin all futuristic, like in the minority report.

the earphone in minority report is already available... but it's not a telephone. as i was sitting watching the movie and seeing the items of the 'future' unveiled i couldn't help but wonder why they couldn't come up with a better headphone than the one i had in my pocket. (all they did was snip the wire.) after the movie, i turned on my mp3 player and knew why they couldn't come up with a better one... you can't improve on perfection. ;)
posted by dobbs at 5:05 PM on July 31, 2002

you can't improve on perfection

So is my paranoia kicking in, or are you all trying to sell me something? This isn't a community blog at all is it? It's just one huge advertising scam...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:11 PM on July 31, 2002

The funniest part of this story, IMHO, is that a few Craigslist regulars spotted this wanted post on CraigsList six weeks ago, and speculated that it was for the Danger Hiptop.

Well, we were close...
posted by kfury at 1:25 AM on August 1, 2002

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