Back in 2006, a group of friends decided to play a practical joke on a colleague obsessed with his Jaguar—they covered the S-Type sedan with thousands of colorful Post-it notes. Scott Ableman uploaded photos of the prank to Flickr, where they became a viral phenomenon. This clip of an ABC News broadcast recounts the story.
The video also contains narrative chyrons that update viewers on a subsequent falling out between Ableman and the maker of Post-it notes. "In 2008," he writes, "3M contacted me, asking for permission to use these photos for their back to school merchandising campaign in stores like Staples and OfficeMax." He says he investigated, and offered, a fair licensing fee that sources place in the $1,000 range. "They responded by saying they could reproduce the photos themselves in their garage for less money," continues Ableman. And 3M did exactly that—the images used in its campaign were recreations.
David Meerman Scott, in a post at the Web Ink Now blog, says the company blew a brilliant opportunity to go with the viral flow—and earned plenty of blogger scorn for its un-credited switcheroo. He contrasts 3M's response to the makers of Mentos, who were so delighted by the famed Mentos-and-Diet Coke geyser video that they not only posted a direct link from the official Web site, but provided support when the video's makers made appearances on shows like NBC's Today. To date, the Mentos video has earned nearly 7,500,000 views.
Your Marketing Inspiration: "You need to be social media aware if you want to propel a World Wide Rave and to prevent a World Wide Rant," says David Meerman Scott.
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