Viral marketing approaches — duck!

It is with a certain degree of smug satisfaction that I noticed two distinctly different approaches to viral marketing playing out this week. One was intentional and failed, and the other was unintentional and is generating press.

On the one hand, as many of you might have heard, there was the bumbling, blatantly obvious attempt by Sony to sell PSP’s via a “blog” called “all i want for Christmas is a PSP.” Not confident enough to sell the system on the merits of its software, Sony contracted an ad agency to produce a fake blog that encouraged people to ask for PSPs for Christmas. It failed.

On the other hand, there are the Wiimote straps that Nintendo says it will voluntarily replace if you want them to. I’ve never had or known personally anyone with an issue, so I’m not asking.

“Nintendo has only verified a few scattered instances of Wii remotes flying because of faulty wrist straps. ‘Because of the nature of the Internet, of course, it gets magnified so one or two occurrences becomes 2,200 experiences,’ said Billy Pidgeon, an analyst at IDC. But the company might take heart that gamers seem to be blaming each others’ klutziness more than they’re criticizing Nintendo’s design.”

But that’s how true “viral marketing” works; you can’t force people to buy into something, or tell them they need it. If it’s really legit the genuine buzz generates itself. Some are trying to spin this into a disaster for Nintendo, whereas I’m spinning it into what many legitimate outlets are reporting as fact: That people associate flying Wiimotes with people who are having a hell of a lot of fun. Who’s winning that fight?