No cure for viral marketing on campus

It vexed many students and inspired an all-out war, both sides equipped with an arsenal of chalk. Did you agree with Quina? Did you even know who Quina was — and when you found out, did you care?

Though the Campus Crusade for Christ may not have changed anyone’s religious beliefs with the Quina campaign, brightly colored sidewalks and T-shirts aided it in pulling off an accomplishment in viral marketing.

Viral marketing has always been around, but it wasn’t until the age of social networking sites and Google that it took on a significant role in pushing products to the masses.

What began as a word-of-mouth way of spreading information — like a passerby talking about the advantages of Pepsi over Coke or a person’s conspicuously loud comments about a particular film outside a movie theater — has taken command of new technologies and managed to integrate its way into the day-to-day routines of millions.

Google Ads recently collaborated with to create advertisements based on personal information users put on public profiles. Google said it’s a way of introducing people to products based on their likes and dislikes. Despite this justification, the integration has Brittany Nichols, a freshman majoring in marketing, wary of putting her personal information on the Internet.

“I have a Facebook, but I made up a fake last name for it,” Nichols said. “I know anyone can access my information, so I try to give away as little information as possible. I don’t like that they do it, but I’m not that angry with it.”

Nichols said that not all viral marketing negatively affects daily life.

“I really didn’t mind the ‘Do you agree with Quina?’ campaign. It caught my attention and the people wearing the Quina shirts did a good job of letting me know what it was all about. I think it was nice to have a marketing campaign on campus that was devoted to doing something that was all-around good.”

The Barack Obama presidential campaign has also launched viral marketing tactics across campus. One method used is known as “stickering,” which involves putting up stickers around campus.

“The Obama ‘O’ is an icon for young voters,” said John Yeager, an Obama campaign volunteer and a senior majoring in sociology. “It’s like the Nike swoosh. When young voters see that ‘O’ they think of the ideals Obama represents and the hope that comes with it. In that way, viral advertising has been a huge help to our campaign.”

Though it is unclear how much the Obama campaign’s stickering tactic influenced voters during the campus straw poll, Obama emerged with a 32-percent age-point lead over McCain.

According to the New York Daily News, Obama is outspending McCain 3-to-1 in key battleground states like Florida in both television and Internet ads. However, Yeager said the key for his candidate to win the presidential race is what’s going on in the streets.

“Barack Obama has gotten the highest amount of young people excited about politics since JFK,” he said. “It’s one of those things that comes along and becomes a cultural phenomenon. Young people are taking part in viral marketing for the Obama campaign because it makes them feel like they’re a part of something big. It’s infectious.”