5 Ways Al-Quaeda is Using Internet Marketing
Posted Sunday, November 7, 2004
Internet Marketing is not dead. But it may have caused the death of a few people.
Let's take a look at how terrorist organizations are using Internet Marketing to recruit and spread the word.
1. Case #1: Dirty Kuffar
MC Osama is in da hizouse - and the roof ... the roof ... the roof is on fire (really).
In the old days, ask any young man what he wanted to be when he grew up and he might say 'a fireman' or 'a policeman.'
Now little boys want to grow up to be gangstas. And why not? They get all the hos ... You know they got the bling-bling ...
'How you gonna tell me my rims ain't clean?'
Sign me up!
And what bigger gangstas are there than terrorists?
Well, a rap MC calling himself 'Sheik Terrah' (apparently spelling corruptions are just another way to 'stick it to the man' - you go boyee!) has released a new hip hop video called 'Dirty Kuffar' and it's all over the web and the file sharing community.
It is a pretty simplistic hate diatribe that lists a lot of western personalities and calls them 'Dirty Kuffar' (Kuffar = Infidel).
'Yeah, Ronald Reagan is a Dirty Kuffar
George Bush he a Dirty Kuffar
Michael Jackson is a Dirty Kuffar'
Yes, the creative genius is staggering.
Seriously though, the marketing effect was pretty pronounced.
For a while there, it was all over the place ...
2. Case #2: F*ck'n USA
Do a search for the above phrase in Google (without the deleted letters) and you'll find many links to a very interesting anti-American propaganda video created by the North Koreans.
It's the animated music video for a catchy little ditty about 'The Great Satan' that is America.
'Blah blah blah ...
And you were the cause of our country's division ...
ba! ba! F*ck'n U S A!'
(The F*ck'n refrain is in English, the rest in Korean.)
Hmm, kind of sticks in your head.
The video was subsequently played on Japanese and South Korean television (probably intending to capture viewer-interest because of the controversy), but that wasn't the end of the anti-America free publicity blitz.
The video with English translations popped up on websites all over the world and on file-sharing programs. So easily the message of hate is spread ...
SIDE NOTE: A clever guy translated the video into English and is advertising himself along with the translated video. (More on this tactic below.)
3. So, How Do They Do It?
How are these terrorist groups getting all this free grass roots advertising and publicity?
Let's break it down:
** Sub Viral Marketing **
This is a tactic where a piece of media (usually video) is created that on the surface is not appearing to advertise the target brand.
Coke, for example, is reported to have created funny videos where the Coke brand appears, but it doesn't look like an ad. People passed these videos on in purely on the merits of their humor. Little did they know, they were inadvertently adverting Coca-Cola.
The two case studies above were definite tools to gain favor for their organizations (the North Korean dictatorship and Al-Quaeda), but people were passing them along for reasons other than that.
They were passing them along because they liked hip-hop music, or they thought they were funny, or they liked the anti-America/Ronald Reagan/Michael Jackson/whatever message.
An interesting mutation of the sub-viral gene! More on these mutative factors below ...
** Pop Culture Predators **
If you can associate your cause with pop culture, it's easy to gain favor for your marketing message. Corporations are dedicating time and research into discovering what kids think is 'cool' and getting their brands to fit. Of course, kids are extremely insecure and at their core, they have a desperate fear that they are *not* cool. So, if you can convince them that doing something will make them cool, the influence is quite profound.
** Current Event Free Rides **
If a particular topic is popular, people are going to scour the net to learn more about it. Hitch your wagon to one of these stars and you get some free publicity.
Can you think of a few ways the above two videos did that?
SIDE NOTE: Remember the Monica Cigar? Here's a clever example of how a marketer hitched his wagon to current events to get free publicity. I remember The Monica even getting a little blurb on Fox News as a matter of fact.
** Enigmatic Content **
Who is that sexy Sheik Terrah?!
Since no one knows who he is, it adds to the controversy and gets more people talking. This spreads the virus even more ...
Further, look at how easily Bin-Laden's messages are spread. If Osama speaks, the whole world listens now. The media runs it as it's top headline. You stop everything and listen. You tell your friends.
So, there you go. Now you too can use terrorist tactics for fun and profit.
Obviously, I'm not supporting terrorism in any way shape or form. I only wish to describe their Internet Marketing tactics as they may, indeed, be useful to marketers.
Copyright 2004 Val Halla
About the Author
Val Halla is a web marketing consultant specializing in traffic generation and conversion analysis. She may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org