Trolling for an Audience
Professionals connect on LinkedIn. Lonely housewives login to CafeMom. Attention whores flock to MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. So it only seems natural that the latest social networking platform caters to an oft-overlooked demo: obsessive fans of Broadway musicals and DreamWorks' Shrek. Or something.
Shrekster.com, "a place for theatreogres," was designed by theatrical advertising firm SpotCo to promote Shrek the Musical. But unlike a traditional fan community or social networking site, Shrekster - more a parody of the Friendster ilk than a legitimate copy - invites visitors to friend and interact with the show's popular characters, whose profiles provide a pun-filled, real-world context of sorts (Gingy, the show's gingerbread man, is apparently an accessories designer in "real life"). The spoof, complete with fake news items about fairy-tale characters, keeps up with Shrek's history of inserting sly pop culture references.
"One of the main problems was having people understand Shrek as a musical property, and how the humor was more adult-focused," says Sara Fitzpatrick, director of interactive services. "The parody came out of that?....?If the characters really existed, this is where they would go to do their social networking."
Shrekster operates separately from the show's official site, and to keep up the charade, makes no implicit mention of Shrek the Musical or ticket purchasing. ("I think people nowadays don't want to feel like a pawn in a marketing wheel, or like they're getting a hard sell," Fitzpatrick says.)