Reasons For Optimism: Really Nice Viral Marketing

Are you going out of your way to avoid the news just to stay positive these days? I know I am. It can really get rough when every day you’re bombarded with headlines shouting economic armageddon. Well, yesterday I learned there are Reasons for Optimism.

This is a super cool viral campaign featuring uplifting and encouraging news stories around a variety of topics, categorized as Art & Design, Science, Health, Environment, Architecture, Business, Culture and Global.

The stories posted right now range from a Seattle Times piece about a little-known inventor who created a practical, affordable, rapidly achievable way to curb global warming; to a New York Times piece spotlighting some of the beautiful short films released recently. There is a blog post from an Iraqi Citizen Journalist who describes how Iraq is beginning to reap the benefits of the status of forces agreement with the United States. They’ve got Charlie Rose’s interview with John Updike and a PBS video featuring the coolest kid in the world Max Wallack who won the “Trash to Treasure” competition for his Home Dome invention, which is made from discarded plastic and provides temporary shelter to the homeless and displaced victims of natural disasters.

I gotta say folks, this site is clever on many levels. Here’s the angle: It’s from two Atlanta-based companies, Iconologic, a brand design company and the connective architecture company Cooper Cary. Here’s how they describe the site:

It’s easy to forget in today’s not-so-optimistic world, real progress continues, beauty appears, brave new worlds are explored and creativity flows. We keep seeking – and occasionally finding – our best selves. There are, in fact, reasons for optimism everywhere we look. If you would like to receive email updates once a week, please click on the subscribe and submit your email address.

And, it’s signed, “Optimistically.”

I love this because it does serve a genuine need right now. I recently finished a Digital Footprint Analysis for a financial services company and I can tell you after thirty days of studying what people are saying online about their retirement funds, we all need some encouraging news. That the articles cover such a wide range of topics shows they really thought about their audience and wanted to make sure everyone could find something interesting. Plus, you can contribute your own articles to help build a library of good things.

It’s brilliant viral because it’s so hands-off. They’re not up in your face with anything. They’re not trying to be clever or cute. They didn’t plaster their logos all over everything. In fact, you have to go hunting for them and even when you find their names, it’s beautifully understated. The links take you to the actual original story; a lesser campaign would have kept you under their thumb on a heavily branded page. Even their note (above) sounds genuinely sincere and it seems to tie nicely to both brands which appear to be about creativity and respect for audience and industry.

From an ROI standpoint, they get to capture email addresses. (I didn’t hesitate to sign up!) Plus, they get to keep their brand in front of target audiences in a way that leaves ’em smiling … and possibly happily anticipating the next update. I’d love to know how many folks have signed up – I will see if I can get that for y’all. Check for updates.

My only criticism is that they don’t have any “share it” features. Granted most of the content they link to does. But, they really should allow subscribers to easily tell their friends and followers and connections, and every other person in their online worlds, all about it.

Bottom line: this is a classy idea that was handled with class – and that’s a rarity online. In fact, the feeling of it reminds me a little of Stride’s Matt Harding videos. Well done Iconologic and Cooper Cary! This one made my day … and the best part is, it will again when I get the next update.

Special Thanks to Jason Nesbitt for the heads up on this site!

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