web culture: December 2008 Archives


photo courtesy of Giant Ginkgo

Last week was pretty good for Illuminati Karate, a web developer in Raleigh, North Carolina. The company snapped up an expired web domain for $10 and resold it for a profit of $34,990.

The domain? GeorgeWBushLibrary.com. The library's online vendor, Yuma Solutions, carelessly let the domain expire. And Yuma should have known better. It initially bought the domain for $3,000 - from yet another squatter.

 Welcome to the wild world of online identity, where seemingly anyone can appropriate a brand's name. Don't think it can happen to your company? Consider the threats:

• Cybersquatting, which occurs when someone purchases a domain that points to your brand, such as the example above. While there are laws against cybersquatting, it can be expensive and time consuming to win. And the so-called squatter may have a legitimate right to the name. In the early days of the Internet, a jazz club in New York called The Blue Note was outraged to discover that someone had already purchased the domain thebluenote.com. The owner, a music club in Columbia, Missouri, felt it had a legitimate right to the name. It, too, was The Blue Note. The New York club had to take legal action in Missouri, where it lost.

• Typosquatting, in which competitors purchase domains that are similar to a legitimate one in order to redirect traffic. For example, you could purchase goggle.com and receive a fair number of visits from sloppy typists who meant to do a Google search.

• Phishing, in which a malicious web site poses as a well-established brand and solicits personal information. Phishing schemes typically target companies with online ecommerce, such as banks and credit card companies.

• Brandjacking, in which someone poses as your company in any online exchange. This can include popular social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Not long ago, a woman calling herself Janet set up the account ExxonMobilCorp on the Twitter microblogging site. She answered questions and shared expertise about her company, including the observation that the Exxon Valdez was not one of the worst 10 oil spills. The problem? Janet was not an ExxonMobil employee. While her account has been shut down, to this day no one knows who she was.

spector.jpgYou know Christmas is coming when your friends start sending you the latest Elf Yourself electronic greetings. According to a post at Odeo.com, this viral has been seen by 193 million visitors. Brilliant, lean in branding for Office Max, and for the cost of one TV commercial. Nice podcast about the campaign, too. 

Here are some more fun virals:

Naughty or Nice? Courtesy of the Greteman Group, a branding agency in Wichita, Kansas.

Simon Sez Santa does your bidding from keyboard commands.

Celebrity Gingerbread, Law and Order edition, from last season, at chow.com. Instructions for making ginger cookie versions of some of Hollywood's fallen heroes (Phil Spector pictured, without gun). Delicious!

Sephora's Mistletoe Makeover. Upload a photo of yourself and play with cosmetics. What favors you most? Is it "Smoky Sugar Plum," "Merry Berry," "Santa's Little Temptress," or "O, Tannen-Babe?"

Added on 12/17:

Ace your Face, from Ace Hardware.

Holiday Party Excuse Generator, from Enlighten, an ad agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Don't tell the kids! For a modest fee, Capture the Magic will photoshop Santa into your living room for evidence of his visit. Ho, ho, ho!

Added on 12/22:

BannerBlog has archived 123 agency e-greetings from 2008. No trees were killed, just lots of hours of Flash development.

If you've found a good holiday viral, let me know. And happy holidays!

I've posted a great deal about Twitter on this blog lately, but I do have a good reason: my students are doing a research study on how companies use Twitter to communicate with their customers. These links are to help them find their way through the front part of their paper assignment. So here's another batch:

Niall Cook writes about good Twitter practice for corporations at The Customer Collective.

A very useful study on Twitter from H-P Labs, Social networks that matter: Twitter under the Microscope, with useful annotations from Jeremiah Owyang at Web Strategy by Jeremiah.

follow me @DavidKamerer
Follow me @DavidKamerer

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the web culture category from December 2008.

web culture: November 2008 is the previous archive.

web culture: January 2009 is the next archive.

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