Viral Marketing and Instant Celebrity

Today, I learned about John Fitzgerald Page. While I am loathe to contribute to his newfound Internet celebrity, the whole story is a fascinating study of viral marketing, the power of bloggers, and why people/marketers must embrace these new voices online. Therefore, please forgive me for adding another notch to this non-celebrity’s publicity belt.

If you don’t know the story, here’s the skinny.

1. John Fitzgerald Page was/is on Match.com.

2. A woman “winked” at him.

3. He sent her a form-letter in which he boasted his accomplishments: high rise condo, Ivy League school, big money career, etc. He then asked her how much she weighs and if she works out regularly. (To his credit, he did acknowledge the rudeness of the inquiry.)

4. The woman clicked “no thanks” so Match.com sent him a polite note saying “thanks but we’re not a good match based on personality.”

5. Instead of leaving it at that. John sent her a nasty email stating that since she rejected him, she must be fat. He goes on at length to insult her and describe himself and his “caliber” including how much he can bench press.

6. She sent his email to a few friends. They sent it on to other friends and so on and so on…

7. Soon, the blog Gawker.com (which covers “media, gossip and pop culture”) got a hold of it and ran the story.

8. It spread like wildfire with bloggers because well, let’s face it – his arrogance is funny and everyone loves a good villain.

9. Now, I always say, major media follow-the-lead of bloggers. True to form, soon the AJC, CNN, FoxNews, CBS and the NYT interviewed him.

Today, John is reveling in Internet stardom. He is releasing his own online videos, putting together book deals and a 20-city tour, all the while securing as much publicity as he can, while he can. He has even become an official escort selling dates for $250-$500 a pop proving in this age of hyper-voyeurism, anybody can be famous, if they want to be.

Certainly none of this is newsworthy. And, I do feel a bit smarmy talking about it here. But the whole story is another example of the speed of viral content online and why people/companies should embrace bloggers. As Target learned, bloggers have the luxury of writing what they want and with each blog linked to another blog, content moves like lightning.

So, bottom line: Bloggers can be a marketer/publicist’s (and even a guy trying to find love) greatest advocate or greatest annoyance — which one is entirely up to you and how much publicity you really want.

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