September 5, 2008

How Gossip Girl Changed Marketing Forever (JK!)

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So Gossip Girl is back. And sure, it doesn’t have much of an effect on my life. (I only watched like six episodes, and it was only because Blake Lively is a fox, so it’s not even a big deal that I watched that much, right? Right? *Cough*) But yeah, it’s back, and people are excited about it.
Anyways, I bring this up because over the summer the folks behind the show mounted a massive advertising campaign to promote the beginning of the second season, and, as an intern in Manhattan around that time — who was subjected to no less than 6,000 ads a day during my routine treks through Times Square — I am well acquainted with this much vaunted marketing phenomenon.
Banners on top of taxicabs, posters at bus stops and giant billboards hanging from skyscrapers all featured shoulders-up shots of the Gossip Girl characters engaged in various sexually implicit positions — making out in the back of a car, having sex in a pool, etc. One ubiquitous catch phrase was emblazoned over each one of these snapshots: “OMFG.”
Whatever you want to say about the show, you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t admit that it’s pretty great advertising — concise, alarming and memorable. The ads demanded the attention of those walking by, and it got me thinking how marketing people might similarly employ obnoxious Internet vernacular to peddle other products. Below is a list of what I was able to come up with:
LOST: I didn’t have to think too hard about this one. LOST is notorious for its out-of-left-field, entirely-improbable-but-so-darn-compelling plot twists. What if, as a series of advertisements, J.J. Abrams just put up a bunch of posters featuring all the most ridiculous elements of the show — smoke monsters, polar bears on tropical islands, the inexplicable presence of Michelle Rodriguez in Season 2 — and printed over each of these images in clean white text: “WTF.” I’d like it.
The McCain-Palin Republican Ticket: Very simple. A picture of the two politicians side-by-side, smiling for photographers or whatever, with letters underneath reading, “HAHA JK!” (While it’s becoming more apparent each day that Senator McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin wasn’t an elaborate joke, I can still imagine the road not taken.)
I’ve been told that good writing aesthetic demands at least three examples, but at present these two are all I’ve got. I did try hard to find one to fit the catchphrase “LYLAS” (Translation: “Love you like a sister. Thanks to Sun Assistant Design Editor Deb Tan for telling me about that one, although I do wish she’d stop saying it to me) but I have come up empty-handed.
Anyways, if you feel like it, you could rack your Ivy League brains and think of your own net-acronym media campaigns, which could certainly be better than my meager attempts at the genre.
I have to go now though.