The idea for this post came from this forum thread
You may want to ignore the insults and pissing contest going on, the 3rd page is the most instructive.
Here is what I had to say about the topic (edited for clarity and semi-decent syntax):
I think a great exemple of viral marketing would be the Coraline boxes… The Coraline movie is based on a Neil Gaiman story. The boxes are amazing and unique hand crafted items sent to 50 bloggers, who in some way or another have something to do with the movie Coraline or Neil Gaiman. This story is so popular, that fake boxes are popping up on Ebay, Neil has an avalanche of comments and questions about the boxes on his blog and many many blogs are abuzz with talk of the boxes or instructions on how to make your own little Coraline box lookalike. Isn’t that viral?
What about the Blizzard method of announcing that they will announce a game and then agonizingly release vague clues (that no one can understand) over several days, slowly whipping their fan boys to franzy (I know it worked with my workmates who would argue and speculate about it non-stop.)
Exemple of a coraline box.
Then forum user Zoombapup asked who indie gamemakers should send similar gifts to if we were gong the Coraline style-box way. To that I answered:
I don’t think there is a WE. I think Cliff’s bloggers might be very different than yours, or Cas’ or mine (assuming I was going indie again.)
You can check a list of the blogs that got the boxes, some are quite surprising. There are at least 3 knitting related sites that got promo for a movie release. So I guess some of the movie prod crew are knitting fans, or else how would they even be aware of places like Knitty or Ravelry (which in addition to be very specialised, requires invites to create an account.)
I think the key here is: They sent the gifts to bloggers and not journalists. Journalists are used to be courted for their attention, they receive stuff all the time, either for review or as incentive to give attention to a product. Bloggers aren’t yet used to the attention and are probably less jaded and easier to sway.
Also, they sent a personal note with each box explaining why they have picked this very blog. When you compare the notes together you get the fact that they are not THAT personal but they still explain why that blog was picked and it looks more genuine and les like a gimmick. Who doesn’t like a personal gift chosen and designed with care? I guess even if for your promotion you were to sent a trinquet and not a collector’s item, having a personal specially written note with it might make a difference to the receiver.
One thing leading to another, I ended up reading Seth Godin‘s blog (from 2002, working my way towards now (I’m now in 2006.) He is really putting into words thought I have had about viral marketing and creating a story that spreads, except he is much better at articulating it and I’m learning a lot. It’s a blog I can’t recommend too much!