Richard Brodie (
Sun, 5 Sep 1999 12:50:39 -0700

From: "Richard Brodie" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: JOM
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 12:50:39 -0700
In-Reply-To: <00a501bef7da$158f5a00$1b21e7d8@proftim>

Tim wrote:

<<Every article about "viral marketing" is talking about Internet
It seems to be a buzzword in those circles, but not in marketing /
advertising / graphic design as a whole. It is often simply the electronic
version of printed letterheads, sometimes with a little branding thrown into
the mix.>>

Unfortunately most business reporters don't really get what the big deal is,
so if you derive your understanding from their accounts you're liable to be
about as successful financially as most of them. As I said before,
engineering self-replication is the big deal.

<<<If you think about for a minute, I expect you'll see that there really is
very little difference between a web designer including the Netscape logo on
his page, and a racecar driver wearing a Pennzoil patch on his jacket.>>

Quite a lot of difference, actually, even if you do take the very crudest
form of viral marketing, encouraging people to put links of their web pages.
This is only really "viral" if, for example, you see a link to Netscape on
you favorite web site and say "what a good idea!" and put one on your own
site. But the product placements in auto racing and elsewhere merely create
impressions (to use the ad industry jargon for one pair of eyes seeing one
ad one time). The web links proliferate indefinitely for free. Of course it
has to be done right, and there is Darwinian competition for this kind of

<<(BTW, you might notice how often you see that Netscape logo on web pages
anymore -- freeware is the norm now and the loyalty that it once engendered
has subsequently faded.)>>

Darwinian selection at its finest.

<<I think it's risky to make predictions of future trends based on the
early, expansive growth in any new industry such as the Internet. (e.g.:
market value of all e-commerce IPO's will grow tenfold in a matter of years,
like Amazon did", and so forth.)>>

I've never heard anyone predict that... usually the opposite. My prediction,
based on my understanding of memetics, is that companies like
that understand memetics and intentionally engineer viral marketing will
succeed beyond most people's expectations.

Richard Brodie
Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
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