I Got a Mention!

I just tried a Google “Who’s Linking to You?” search. It’s about a year since I last tried it and I found a few surprises. The one I am most pleased about is from Joseph Jaffe, Editor of iMedia Connection.

In an article about Viral Marketing he said, “. . . “The making of the Cog Commercial” is now available. I recently downloaded the four-minute 100 MB Quicktime version of this advermentary (consultant’s editorial buzzword license taken here) thanks to Steve Bell, a Connector second to none. ” (Steve blows on finger nails.)

By the way, if you want to try a Google “Who’s Linking to You?” search, go to the usual Google interface and type: link:www.yourdomain.com. That’s it. Really easy. Remember to try it both with and without the “www.”.

Car Insurance, Accident Solicitors and Loan Commercials

Anyone who watches cable or satellite TV these days will know of the blight of car insurance, accident compensation and debt consolidation loan company commercials that now monopolise every commercial break. I hate them.

I received an email today from a friend who says he has recently given up his satellite subscription because he simply can’t stand these ads any longer. I know for the stations concerned, advertising revenue is king, but I wonder if anyone has done any research on how many people switch channels trying to avoid these? There must be a law of diminishing returns if viewers are ultimately persuaded to drop some 300+ channels and return to the terrestrial half dozen or the “Freeview” 20? Maybe it’s time the senior management of some of the less watched channels did some homework on how many extra viewers they might attract if they banned or at least priced these ads off their channels?

Any comments? Talk to me!

“Easter Eggs” in Car Software

I think we all know what “Easter Eggs” are – not the chocolate kind, the kind that are programmer’s “in jokes” hidden within software. Well it seems this has now extended to cars. Yes, really!

There’s apparently a “cheat code” in the software running the BMW M3’s sequential manual gearbox (SMG): Press the right buttons in the right order and the car will launch you from a standing start after first revving the engine to 5,000 rpm. But don’t look for any instructions in the owners’ manual – this feature is decidedly undocumented.

There is however a catch. In Europe, doing more than 15 such “launches” voids the car’s warranty. In the USA, laws prohibit such stipulations, so U.S.-spec cars are programmed to wind up to only 2,500 rpm.

If you just happen to have a BMW M3 with a Sequential Manual Gearbox (or better still be driving someone else’s :-) here’s what you do:

* Switch off the stability system

* Select ‘Shift Program Six’

* Switch the engine to Sport Mode

* With the gear shift in Drive, hold it in the downshift position

* Press the accelerator (the engine will rev to the pre-programmed rpm and hold)

* Now release the gear shift!

The car will launch forward violently (depending on the road surface, probably accompanied with much screeching and smoking of tyres) and the engine’s revs will climb quickly, so be prepared to change up sharpish!

This would appear to be the first automotive “Easter Egg,” though it would seem just a matter of time before they become standard fare.

Don’t Press Star!

A week or so ago, I had occasion to try and call my bank (Barclays). I tried directory enquiries but all they would give me was the call centre number. I eventually wound up calling that and was met with the usual “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” scenario. After going through five levels (yes 5!), I was told I was in a queue, how important my call was to them, how profusely they apologised, that they were all very busy, and that would be answered shortly. After a while I gave up – this was not a free call!

A while later I tried again. I noticed at the beginning of the recorded options, the voice asked me to “Please press star, twice”. I wondered what would happen if I didn’t! The answer, friends – the phone rings and you are put straight through to someone who asks you what you want! Wow!

Now, I’ve mentioned this to a few other people. Most have said “Wow” just like me. One said “Oh, I often do that!” Well I now pass this on to all you good peole who didn’t know. It’s worth trying! Refuse to play the ‘options’ game and “Don’t Press Star“! I’ve tried this since with British Telecom and it works with them as well.

This has led me on to thoughts of creating a website with all the unofficial ways (like this) of getting the service you want. How about publishing all the branch numbers of every Barclays bank in the UK? You know – the ones directory enquiries won’t give you! I bet someone in Barclays would be willing to anonymously slip out a copy of their branch phone directory! How about http://www.DontPressStar.com? :-) Does anyone out there know of any more ways to beat the system? Let me know and I’ll publish them here.

”The Mystery of Dalaro” – Volvo Documentary – Fiction!

OK, so here’s the final word. The Dalaro ad campaign was created by MVBMS Fuel Europe, an Amsterdam-based ad agency that has been on contract with Volvo since 2000. Note that final link-up with the Amsterdam-based domain registrant for the “Carlos Soto” website which rounds things off quite nicely!

Tim Ellis, Global Director of Advertising at Volvo Cars, says: “Even though it comes off as quite serious, the story is actually very playful – once you think you’ve got it, we offer one more layer to the communication to question that assumption.”

Simon Pride, European Account Director at the agency, said: “People are absolutely saturated with advertising these days and we need to find new ways to capture their imagination and get them involved with Volvo. The internet offers great opportunities to tell interesting stories about the brand, and to do so in more innovative and entertaining ways.” Their solution – a spoof within a spoof!

I have to say it is brilliantly done. A clever strategy and well executed. I am sure many people will take this at face value and those who don’t and find the alternative version (as I did) will be at least intrigued and at best impressed with the cleverness of it all. Mark Butler also wrote this up on his website which you can find Here. Well done Volvo – you ‘had me going’ for about 24 hours!

”The Mystery of Dalaro” – Volvo Documentary – Fact or Fiction? (III)

A simple test, I looked up who owns the domain for Carlos Soto. The data looks like this: Note the “Technical Contact” address especially.

Registrant:
Quinones, Paula (ANWQONYOOD)
Paulus Potterstraat 38
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland 1021
NL

Domain Name: CARLOSSOTO.COM

Technical Contact:
Domain Network Sweden AB (UOJFSWOJRO) registry@domainnetwork.se
Box 3396
Stockholm s-103 68
SE
Record created on 11-Dec-2003.

My “informant” and my suspicions were right – it’s got to be a “spoof within a spoof”! I should have known for sure as soon as I saw it. (Remember Mercedes’ ”Lucky Star’‘?) More later . . .