“Fake Biotech Firm Is Key Marketing Ploy for Crichton Novel”

By JEFFREY TRACHTENBERG and BRIAN STEINBERG
Wall Street Journal
November 16, 2006

Dave’s Comments (Digital Marketing Tutorial Blog): Viral video ads on YouTube presumably hyping a new biotech company that sells genes and/or the products of genetic engineering? And not only are the ads fake, but so is the company they purport to advertise?! What a wonderful (and very out-there online marketing) way to get some buzz going about Michael Crichton’s new thriller “Next”.

“A puppy that never ages. A cactus that grows human hair. Giant cockroaches presented as pets.

Genes run amok at Nextgencode, which is as it should be. The “company” is the creation of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers, and its sole purpose is to gin up interest in “Next”, Michael Crichton’s coming thriller about genetic research. The publisher plans to post videos on YouTube and other popular Web sites touting the accomplishments and products of Nextgencode.

At a time when animals are being cloned, the products promoted by the videos are almost believable. One, based on the premise that the gene for blond hair is about to become extinct, promotes a gene that will prevent that.

Mr. Crichton and his book don’t figure in the fake offers, but viewers will figure out the hoax if they follow the videos’ directions and go to the Nextgencode Web site. Clicking on “New Book Reveals Trade Secrets” brings up a picture of the dust jacket for “Next.”

Elaborate as it is, the Nextgencode hoax is only one piece of the marketing push for the Crichton novel, due to be published Nov. 28. The promotion also includes ads on MySpace and other Web sites and in newspapers.”

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