August 30, 2005

the astrophysicist story


Andrew Jaffe, an astrophysicists in London signed up for the Stormhoek Blogger's Wine Freebie.

OK, so he got the bottle, but then sadly left the bugger on the train.

We saw the story via one of the search engines, so we sent him another bottle. What the hell, we were feeling nice.

Why is this interesting? Maybe to the average person, it isn't.

But the fact is, for pennies (and I do mean PENNIES) on the dollar compared to standard advertising campaigns, we're getting astrophysicists talking openly and intellegently about a bottle of $10 plonk.

Why? Because the $10 bottle of plonk is talking openly and intellegently with astrophysicists.

Yes. Cluetrain. Exactly. "Markets are conversations" etc. Sure, call me a shameless, pimping blog whore all you want, but this stuff actually does matter to me.

[BONUS LINK:] "Brand Hijack". The essential ingredient in creating word-of-mouth.

Posted by hugh macleod at August 30, 2005 12:59 AM | TrackBack

An outstanding cartoon. Really, it's one of your best. It's on the same level with "I suck cock/I take it up the ass," which is my all time favorite. Kudos to you.

Posted by: Keith at August 30, 2005 6:05 AM

Shameless, pimping blog whore! ;-)

Now what would have been *really* interesting is had you found a post from the person who found the bottle and drank the wine, then realized that someone who should've had the opportunity to drink the wine didn't get said opportunity, whereby you dashed off and sent him a new bottle since the opportunist wine drinker posted a picture of the label. Er...or something.

Posted by: Anthony Eden at August 30, 2005 6:39 AM

Very apt. Not only the graphic but also the axiom.

Posted by: Shirazi at August 30, 2005 8:06 AM

intellegently ?

Oh come on, someone had to point out the irony there

Hugh if you'd come to the geekdinners organised off, instead of the marketing based ones (*cough*) you could hear us all pester Andrew. There's some kudos in knowing someone whose job is basically "Find out where the universe comes from".

Posted by: Barry Dorrans at August 30, 2005 12:41 PM

My next initiative to this whole geek dinner thing: actually getting women to come to these events (Shock Horror).

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 30, 2005 12:50 PM

Women? Are you insane.

Well, it would be better than turning it into another RSS is going to change the world-fest.

It's interesting how geek dinner has mutated into blogger dinner despite the fact 90% of bloggers wouldn't know a DTD if you slapped them with it.

Posted by: Barry Dorrans at August 30, 2005 12:56 PM

I don't care if it is marketing, blog or geek (being all of that), I know what a DTD is and how to use it - but if you want more of the rare women to appear, that kind of thing needs to be on a date where they can fly in.

Weekdays is not really a good choice for that. :)

Posted by: Nicole Simon at August 30, 2005 2:03 PM

ok hugh - how about this. you gave a bottle of stormhoek sauvignon to a blogger but he drank the bottle with his mates and wasn't all that that impressed. his review was "harsh but fair"

so you decide to try again and send out a bottle of the stormhoek chardonnay to go for second time lucky. if the chardonnay is unoaked it might be worth firing over a bottle.

what say you?

Posted by: james governor at August 30, 2005 2:21 PM

I'm happy to send you another bottle, James.

Because they were all packed by hand, some of the samples would not have been as fresh they could be. It happens occasionally. I'm willing to wager your was one of them.

I don't know if it will be the chardonnay or not, but I'll do my best.

Give me a day or two and I'll see one gets in the mail.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 30, 2005 3:23 PM

A meta-question about this "conversation" process: Why not run a full discussion-forum server, so that the customers really have their own voice?

Posted by: Bill Seitz at August 30, 2005 3:44 PM

Don't you think maybe the success of your idea is because it is new, and as soon as a few dozen or more pr companies start blogging, too, it will get old very fast?

Posted by: Sam at August 30, 2005 4:33 PM

They're welcome to try, Sam ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 30, 2005 4:50 PM

Forums (Fora?) tend to be asshole and troll magnets. Not worth the trouble.

Anyway, since when is not building a forum denying the customer a voice? What's stopping them building their own blog with Technorati links?

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 30, 2005 5:15 PM

Too late Hugh my personal blog has already been deemed the definition of a blog whore.

Still waiting to be on the list for the American shipment!

Posted by: Jim Turner at August 30, 2005 6:10 PM

I'm a physicist too. You must really be chasing that elusive Physics Dollar...

Posted by: Greg Smyth at August 30, 2005 8:39 PM

hugh, my business is elsewhere. I am just wondering if you maybe overhype this all a bit, so you get mentioned into the conventional media.

And boy, I really do hope mass media will die! I just got the nagging feeling they won't do me the favour.

Posted by: Sam at August 30, 2005 10:02 PM

you're not shameless.

you're putting your mouth where your word-of-mouth is (or is it the other way around?).

you know what i mean.

Posted by: charlie at August 31, 2005 8:36 AM

Putting my money where my word-of-mouth is?

Something like that.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 31, 2005 9:39 AM

What's wrong with being a shameless, pimping blog whore anyway? I've been called worse ...

and Barry - why are you usings DTDs when XSDs are SO much better?

Posted by: Ric at August 31, 2005 4:42 PM

Forums not worth the trouble? You might want to talk to Tom Carter over at Hobby Heaven (

While you're visiting his site, click on the "Message Boards" link. Have a look at the dates on the messages. Count the traffic. (If you were active in the hobby, I'd say "count the nationally-known luminaries who post there", too; a good number of them do.) That's at least several hundred people visiting his site near-daily, talking about model kits. Including Tom -- generally a direct business-related question on the board gets a personal reply.

I don't honestly know how much business Tom does, but I do know that he is personally a significant fraction of the market for the US model-kit manufacturers.

Not a business model that works for all markets, certainly, but as a business model for products related to a hobby in which people do a lot of sitting around and talking -- yeah, it works pretty well.

Incidentally, while you're researching, if you can find anything on Polar Lights, you might find that interesting too. They were a small independent model kit manufacturer (which recently got bought out by a Big Nameless Company, so a lot of the evidence is already fading) which seemed to get quite a lot of value out of sponsoring a corporate forum and having one of their PR people be responsible for moderating it.

Posted by: Brooks Moses at September 1, 2005 2:59 AM


Because putting an XSD at the top of your XHTML page wouldn't be valid?

Posted by: Barry Dorrans at September 1, 2005 2:21 PM