in Digital Web

A lesson in viral marketing

No, still not about “higher ed” in a traditional sense. But EA shows us how a major brand can effectively use viral marketing, by responding to what’s out on the web.

The best part of this, in my mind, has nothing to do with the actual ad (though it is pretty cool.) The real story is that EA is saying “we’re hearing you” when people are using viral tools to communicate about their brand. They were aware of what was going on in the marketplace. A lot of times, we like to act as if we’re inoculated from the criticism that might be leveled using new technology at strong brands, because we’re trying to show that we’re bulletproof to those things and that it’s “not relevant.”

But in this case, they took something — a glitch someone exposed in a commercial — and flipped it into something that accentuated a new version of their game. They took a negative and turned it into an opportunity to enhance their brand.

It was a savvy move, all the way down to releasing it online only.

Given that video game companies and colleges serve similar demographics, there are certainly opportunities for crossover. One example is what Carnegie Mellon did with Randy Pausch’s lecture once someone put it up on Youtube and it became an internet sensation.