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Apple’s leak marketing continues?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday April 26, 2010 )

We’ve seen a couple of great examples of Apple’s leak marketing in the last week.. or were they?

The first example was an entry on Gizmodo.

“You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City”

Lost in a bar huh? Maybe.

This not only stirred up a lot of buzz for Apple, but can you imagine the traffic that Gizmodo received that day? Good luck to them both.

The second was the new yet-to-be-released iPod turning up on eBay. The listing only stayed up for a short time – long enough for people (the right people) to notice of course.

Leak marketing used to consist of conveying a secret to someone you know couldn’t keep it – someone who you also knew would tell the people you would want hearing about a product. Sometimes it wouldn’t even need to be relayed as a secret – just a piece of information relayed to a trusted partner intended for release where you could be secure in the knowledge the information you wanted released would be done so in the way you wanted. The partner benefits from the attention generated through being a “trusted source” or “close to the company”, you benefit from the buzz.

Leak marketing is a form of indirect press release really – the fact that the company hasn’t issued the news directly somehow spices it up and the wonderful thing about it is if it doesn’t work out the way you want it; there’s all sorts of avenue for plausible denial and back-pedaling – while gaining valuable insights from the reaction to the leak.

Apple has taken leak marketing to a whole new level with these “accidents”.

While it’s brilliant stuff, I fear it could get rather old rather quickly when others not quite as skilled as Apple try to pull it off.

We’ll be seeing new super secret models of cars being stolen from high security facilities and turning up in trailer parks; the next version of Windows somehow winding up in the hands of Kalahari bushmen who found it in tree and 15 seconds of Lady Ga Ga’s next single being accidentally played during a televised Mass in St. Peter’s Basillica before it’s officially released.

Apple’s “controlled leak” marketing abilities are certainly admirable – but I guess also a sign of how jaded we have all become and how much “noise” is around that it takes such efforts to get noticed.

Thankfully for the little guy, we don’t have so much invested in our products and services that we need to gain such broad coverage – however, these major leak marketing events can drown out whatever efforts we are making at the time to be heard.

It makes you wonder what we’ll be doing in ten years from now in order to grab attention – and how much more cynical we’ll all become in the process.


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