Magazine article Information Today

The Art of Generating Buzz

Magazine article Information Today

The Art of Generating Buzz

Article excerpt

I first saw's most recent ad campaign in California without knowing I had seen a campaign for

Driving into town from the San Francisco airport, I spotted a billboard that read, "The Algorithm killed Jeeves." Later I saw another billboard with "The Algorithm is from Jersey." And I see on the Web, there was also one that said, "The unabomber hates the Algorithm."

The algorithm campaign was created by advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CPB;, an agency famous for viral marketing campaigns that are designed purely to generate buzz. So the campaigns are vague, sometimes controversial, and often outlandish.

The same agency produces what I personally regard as the weirdest commercials on television, the ones with the large-headed king for Burger King, including one in which the creepy character peers at a woman through her window.

The CPB billboard campaign for "The Algorithm" did indeed generate buzz, though most that I saw on the Net was not positive. At TechCrunch (, a posting called The Algorithm Is Offensive received more than 70 comments, including one from a guy named Adam who wrote, "Their [the agency's] modus operandi is to get people to talk about their ad campaigns no matter." admits as much in its own blog post, praising the innovative work of the agency (

I'm not sure how the new TV ad, which Barbara Quint (bq) comments on in her Up Front with Barbara Quint column this month, relates to the billboards; the commercial was created by the same agency, and admits that it is an extension of that campaign. One thing is clear though: From the amount of space we alone are dedicating to it this month, it's sure to generate the much-desired word-of-mouth buzz that marketers covet. …

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