Thursday, November 15, 2007

So, you want me to do your job for you, at home, for free.

If there's anything worse than a bad ad campaign, it's one that desperately wants to enlist you, the viewer, to do the legwork. And better yet, to do the legwork and pay for the privilege.

AT&T has set up a site where you can now - get this! - make three-place-name stupid mashups of your very own, and then get those put on a t-shirt, which you can then wear, for the low low price of $17.95 plus shipping (which adds an astonishing six bucks to the total, meaning you're actually paying nearly $25). And won't you be proud when someone asks about your shirt and you have to explain to them not only that you're an embarrassing corporate shill but that you actually paid money to be an embarrassing corporate shill?

It took a lot of chutzpah on AT&T's part to push something like this, especially since the name generator isn't even very good. Would it really have been that difficult to, say, write into the code something that would keep letters from repeating if they were ones that didn't look good doubled up? I tried inputting Philadelphia, Delaware and Prague like in the ad, but instead of getting Philawareprague, I ended up with "Philaawue." Terrific. You couldn't even set it up to make the ones you used in your ads? Putting in Virginia, Colorado and Sacramento - which I assume are the constituent parts of "Virgicolomento" - gives me "Virorento."

The bad, albeit unsurprising, news is that you can't just type in swear words; AT&T recognizes them and tells you that you "owe the swear jar 25 cents" - at least it's not 25 dollars - and requests you try again, without even letting you see your creation in lights. The good news? It can still be tricked. See if you can figure out how I feel about this "viral" campaign from the following screenshot, which was not doctored in any way:

The last two aren't close to being real place names, of course, and I get the feeling they wouldn't print this even if I were willing to buy it, but I think I made my point. Population: 1, indeed.


Quivering P. Landmass said...


I went to the site to mess around with it but met with less success. Plus, now I owe the swear jar $46.75.

Andrew N.P. said...

Wow. I thought the ads themselves were bad. But this... this is pure "What the hell were they THINKING?!" territory. I almost want to pony up the 25 bucks, just so they're forced to print a T-shirt that says "I went to AUSCHWITZ and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Then I will call the Anti-Defamation League. And hilarity will ensue.