MSN Spins Wale of Tale: Goes Viral To Supplement TV, Radio Buys

by , Feb 24, 2005, 9:16 AM
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Online portal MSN will supplement its massive TV, radio and Web ad campaign for its new search service with a viral campaign dubbed “MSN Found.” The campaign is built around six fictional bloggers who collect MSN Search results relevant to their corner of the blogosphere, also links to other genuine online phenomenon like exploding wales.

An MSN spokesperson declined to comment on the viral campaign, other than to say: “There is a lot of great content to be found out on the Web. ‘Found’ complements MSN Search by finding more of the unique content on the Web.”

When the MSN Search marketing blitz was being announced, an MSN executive told OnlineMediaDaily that an agency called 42 Entertainment would be creating virals to promote the search engine.

42 Entertainment declined to comment on the campaign, and referred any questions to MSN’s public relations firm. An MSN spokesperson confirmed that 42 Entertainment worked on the viral campaign, saying: “MSN works with a number of third-party companies, and 42 Entertainment has worked on this and a number of other Microsoft projects.”

The ad features six fictional characters, each with their own Web log. They are Reggie, a DJ from London; Tad, a surfer from Venice Beach; Karen, a dog breeder from Sandusky, Ohio; Swing, a hotel concierge from Tokyo; Cy a security guard and conspiracy theorist from Chicago; and Denise, the owner of the new True dating service.

The viral’s main site, www.msnfound.com, collects all the blogs together, along with pictures of the authors. Each of the authors has a unique shtick.

For example, DJ Reggie suggests music for his readers, all conveniently available on MSN’s music page. Several of the blogs also mention the dating site www.True.com; MSN declined to comment on any relationship with the dating service by publication time.

Each blog also has a section called “finds,” which collects four MSN search results pages on things relevant to the blog’s subject matter. Reggie’s music is “vertiginous.” Don’t know what that means? Why, just click on a link to MSN Search (provided on the blog), and it’ll take you to a dictionary entry provided by MSN Answers, one of the selling points of the search engine.

One common thread in all the blogs is the use of other popular Internet phenomena. Surfer Tad’s blog links the infamous exploding whale video, which wasn’t an ad for anything, but became a popular Internet viral.

Searchers using particular terms (“blubber blowout,” in the case of Tad’s exploding whale) for these videos, which have already gained popularity on the Web, are given both a regular organic search page and also a direct link to the various virals, hosted by MSN and with links back to the fictional characters’ blogs.

The blogs’ fictional characters also interact with each other. During the first wave of entries, “Swing” writes about receiving flowers from a secret admirer--while security guard Cy writes that his “impromptu study of human emotional response to unexpected gifts produced highly intriguing results.”

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