This week Con Text looks at MURKETING

This week Con Text looks at MURKETING

Sounds clear as mud to me

In olden times, all advertisers had to do was give the name of the product, followed by something like " grrreat!" or "the housewives' No 1 choice". You could knock up a slogan such as Beanz Meanz Heinz and instantly turn your product into a household name. Ads did exactly what they said on the tin.

And now? Now, with the rise of web media, hitting the target market takes lateral thinking. Families are no longer gathered around the goggle box in the evening - they're socialising on Facebook and Bebo, and watching YouTube instead of the regular tube. Advertisers have to be more creative if they want to pull in the fragmented demographic and place their product at the centre of the action. They have to call in the murketing men.


How does this murketing work?

Murketing is a vague form of marketing - the message isn't clearly spelled out, and the ad seems to bear little relation to the product. In a typical murketing campaign, the advertiser will send out an intriguing video that will get people blogging - such as a gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins's In the Air Tonight. Only after the video ends is it revealed to be an ad for a chocolate bar. Or they'll send out a video purporting to be something real, wait until the whole world is talking about it, then reveal that it was a hoax all along.

Example? Recently, a video popped up on YouTube showing people popping popcorn with their mobile phones. Four teenagers placed some unpopped corn between four mobile phones, then dialled them simultaneously. As soon as the phones rang, the popcorn popped, as if by magic. The video became a web sensation, but was soon revealed to be a hoax: mobile phones are not really portable popcorn-popping machines.

Who put this out? A popcorn company?

Turned out to be a teaser ad for a range of hands-free products for mobile phones. The ad toyed with popular fears about mobile phone radiation - the angle was, use our headsets, and your ears won't pop like popcorn. According to Cardo Systems, the company behind the video, the campaign has been "really successful at capturing the attention of all different kinds of users".

Sounds like a sneaky way to sell something

Murketing is stealth advertising, but these days the "mudvertisers" have to be very clever, because they're not dealing with couch potatoes - they're dealing with mouse potatoes who are faster on the uptake and quicker to spot a blatant sales pitch. The term was coined by New York Timescolumnist Rob Walker, who has his own blog,, in which he explores the murky world of the murketeers.

Who else is murketing these days?

Recently, the world was shocked by security camera footage of a guy "hulking out" (ie going completely off his head) in his office. It turned out the video was a hoax created by the makers of the new blockbuster thriller Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie.

Try at work:

So, you've got a fake private eye named Jim Figgerty looking for whoever stole the figs from the fig rolls? It'll never work!

Try at home:

Just saw on the news that nuclear Armageddon is here and flesh-eating radioactive zombies are loose - must be an ad for that new burger joint.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist