That's why she fell for the leader of the pack...

I found this on both The Unofficial Apple Weblog and ArsTechnica's Infinite Loop.

Miscisheep

iDont (you can key it in yourself if you so desire; I won't be bumping their hit count with a built-in link) is a viral marketing campaign against iPod owners the world over.

The campaign -- perpetrated by SanDisk in support of their line of MP3 players that they hope (emphasis on "hope") can actually compete with Apple's iPod -- wants to make people believe that, if you own an iPod, you are just one of a herd not expressing individuality in any way, shape, or form.

I'm sorry, but this bugs the hell out of me.

Back in my marketing classes during my undergrad and now in my M.B.A. program, we have learned that when you are in first place, you advertise to the strengths of your product. You just do a bunch of self promotion in your ad campaigns. When you're in second place, you play on the weaknesses of the company in the #1 slot.

Is it a testament to how good the iPod is that SanDisk could not find a flaw to exploit and, instead, opted to attack the users of the gadget? Or is it just marketing suicide and their marketing department are a bunch of imbeciles? Probably a bit of both. One tip, guys...

YOU DO NOT ATTACK YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMER BASE!

Are you guys flippin' idiots? Right now, if anything, you've pissed off the people that you are hoping to woo. Why would a customer want to show allegiance to a company that just insulted them? You've automatically limited your market to the 10% of users who opt for MP3 players aside from the iPod and its family of products. That is a percentile that big boys like Microsoft are trying to appeal to as well. So, by stealing shares from them, you've pissed off the bull and you're going to get the horns. Microsoft won't sit back and take it. And I hope they put you out of your misery.

And Apple is likely just going to sit back and watch as it all plays out.

iPod owners are happy with their players, for the most part. They are easy to use, reliable, and damn nice looking. Are we sheeps because we use them? Hell no. We're sheep if we buy into your bullshit manifesto and jump ship to your product.

Individuality lies not in the means you employ to play your music, but in the music you choose to play on it.

And it should also be noted that the site only has two product reviews that it links to in their "The Alternative" page. I'm not sure if this is because there haven't been enough reviews of the product overall, or just not enough good reviews for them to show. Also note that one of the reviews links to a site called anythingbutipod.com. Gee, wonder if they'll be objective.

SanDisk, it was fun knowing you. You've lost my business entirely. And I'm sure I won't be the only one.

Don't ever call me a sheep because I opt for quality.

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suze

Not that I'm defending them in any way, shape or form as I, myself? LOVE my little shuffle and am pondering the leap to the 30 Gig video beast (and i mean that in a good way) as I type. But I find most advertising insults its customer base anyway, and at least they have the guts to do it blatantly rather than subtly.

and, having used both a MP3 Player from outside the iPod family and my little shuffle - iPods are my preference - easier to use, far fewer complications. I just wish the damn iPods had a stop button. Pause is not the same as Stop. That's my only complaint...

Allison

As someone that used to use another brand of mp3 with nothing but problems and now a psyched owner of the above mentioned "30 Gig video beast"... iPods are definitely superior. They are easier to use, easier to load with files, easier to add new stuff or change your existing playlists. I love my new iPod. I don't think I'll ever go back to anything else.

I also love my wonderful husband and mother-in-law who got me the great iPod for Mother's Day. Larry is probably one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. (I took a page from your book, Kev, and gave my iPod a name. Scott thinks I'm crazy, but oh well.) I love not having to hear the same song 3 times on a commute!

mikey

I would love to have any type of mP3 player but when I get one it won't be from them. Ipod nano is first on my list. You were right on Kevin.

BTW that picture looks like a cover of a bad porno flick.

ms. sizzle

you tell 'em!

Dave2

Well, their player probably sucks ass (most everything other than an iPod does) and this is all they got.

I pity the idiots.

It kind of makes me want to go out and buy ANOTHER iPod. :-)

Bre

Ugh. That's just tacky. But you're right that Apple doesn't have to do anything - quality speaks for itself. I was a big Apple hold-out in the beginning. I resisted their sleek designs because I feared the loss of my beloved right click. I purchased a different MP3 player because -look how much more memory I have for so much cheaper! Haha... oh wait... that crashed too and now I cradle my sleek little iPod lovingly and dream of the day when I can plop down 3 grand on a new powerbook. Convert, thy name is Bre.

MadIrishMan

Our society today is all about insults. Practically in everything we do. The best way to get a reaction out of people today is to insult the things they use, believe, etc...... I think this is wrong but, by doing this they get people talking about it. Whether it is negative or positive it doesn't matter. They just what us to talk about it.

Bec

I have my link to the Apple site all ready and waiting and the moment I have the ready capital I shall own my iBundleOfJoy...

Kevin

Suze, you can stop iPods. Just press and hold the play/pause button and it shuts off. Takes about three seconds.

Allison, good to see you back! And welcome to the iPod conglomerate! They are nice, aren't they? Nice name. As in VeggieTales?

Mikey, honestly Mr. iFarmer! I was just helping the iSheep over the iFence!

Sizzle, I shall!

Dave, I say do it! Fight the power (and I use that word very loosely).

Bre, welcome to the Borg! Here's hoping you also receive a visit from the iStork bearing new Mac Books.

MIM, it's really sad to see how marketing has delved into the lower circles of hell in terms of treatment of customers. And even sadder to think that there are consumers out there that will actually buy into this approach.

Bec, I hope you soon receive a visit from the iStork.

Elaine

Being in te public relations field, I'm gonna have to totally agree with you Kevin. That's the first and biggest mistake in marketing and PR. You never want to piss people off that might bring your company revenue. After reading this, I will never buy an MP3 player (not like I was gonna anyways but still).

jackt

Dude you're stupid if you don't read my blog every day. :)

Jacquie

That's a very good point. Who were the marketing execs that came up with that one? I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said here (does that make me a follower... crap!)

Kevin

Elaine, you never have to buy an MP3 player. Just buy an iPod (it has transcended mere MP# player status). Yeah, I'm in PR also.

jackt, hey, give me time! I just recently discovered you! Not that you don't already have a ton of readers and commenters. ;-)

Jacquie, but you're following me and that makes it not only cool, but fun!

jackt

Ha! So your theory is proven UNTRUE! I can insult my audience and still get them to drink the Kool-Aid!!!

Kevin

Difference being that I can use your own site as a weapon against you. I do it so I can insult you and your doily-folding Force "skills." I figure, since I can "interact" and get my own word in edgewise, it's okay that you hurl your mediocre insults at me. ;-)

Hyperion

I won't deny that many Ipod users like the product for its quality. But you can't tell me there isn't a sizable percentage that doesn't fit this advertising to a tee.

I mean, there was the Mini Ipod and then the Nano Ipod! Who needs an mp3 device that is smaller than a stick of gum? Next (and for all I know this has already happened), Ipods will start coming in different colors so that people will wear them as trendy fashion accessories.

People are sheep (and surely you'll agree), and as someone outside the Ipod craze, I've noticed it nowhere more than here.

Of course, people have lots of reasons for buying products. I read "The Da Vince Code," that doesn't make me a sheep. I'll see X-Men 3 this weekend. That doesn't make me a sheep either. I may even shop at Old Navy. (Just kidding. At that point, I'm earning the 100% wool shirts.)

But there is a large group of people who do these things because they are trends. In this vein, the new ad campaign -- while admittedly dangerous -- could be genius.

There are those out there who buy products for the trends, and secretly fear they could go out of style. There are other people out there who crave being "different" to the point of worrying that too many people have the same thing they do.

Tapping into either one of these segments could help a new product. And let's face it: they got us talking about them. I'd never heard of SanDisk before you mentioned it.

A Sheep at the Wheel,

Hyperion

Eve

I'll meet you guys at the new Apple Store. In a show of solidarity, we can go iPod wild!!!

That seriously is a horrible ad campaign.

sandra

I think it's ridiculous if the only thing you can do to promote your own product is to insult another. My only issue with the iPod/iTunes is that the DRM stuff is annoying -- but I think companies in general are working on that anyway. So if I'm an iSheep, I'm a proud one.

Kevin

Hyperion, it has gotten us talking about it which is one of the things I debated when it came to posting this entry. Should I or shouldn't I give them the promotion? Well, I did it anyway, but my own way. If you recall, the Mini's were colored. But, of all the MP3 players out there, the iPod offers the most options. If we all went with one of the other options, then we all really would be sheep. As it stands, there are five different models of the full size iPod (with the most recent in two colors), six different colored Minis, one Shuffle look, and two Nanos. what other MP3 player has that variety? And what other player has the third-party support for even further customization? This SanDisk thing won't have the 3-P support. They will all look the same and the people who buy them will have to rely on the few proprietary accessories that come out. Obviously manufacturers realize that this is more than just some craze. I knew SanDisk from their knockoff memory cards for cameras and their USB thumbdrives.

Eve, I would meet you there in a heartbeat if I could. That place is droolworthy.

Sandra, I think I must be the only one who is completely unbothered about DRM. I can burn songs as many times as I want (not that I do), I can even reimport it after burning it so it becomes a regular MP3 file, I can put it on as many iPods as I want, use the files on up to five authorized computers, etc. If DRM is the tradeoff to get the selection of music we do on iTunes, then I'm all for it. All these pay music stores (if they hope to remain legal) have DRM of some sort. Even Napster does. iTMS just has the best selection of music of all of them. And it's the only one that works on both Windows and Mac. Why anyone would use anything else is beyond me.

Is there something in this whole DRM issue that I'm missing?

sandra

Check this out: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=3086

Interesting DRM stuff...

Nicole

I feel like I'm getting in on this discussion rather late. Damn the last time zone life! As some one who has worked in marketing, I agree with you (and with all the other people who have already agreed with you) that its really not smart to insult the people you're trying to entice to purchase your product. This actually seems like a kindergarten reverse psychology ploy to me. Luckily Mac users are super-intelligent people who won't fall for it. Plus, we have the superior MP3 player. :-)

Nat

Suze: why would you want to stop the music... the music should never stop ;)

It's not the iPod that makes you a sheep, it's the stuff you put on it. I'm had a blue Mini, love my 30 gig beast. Love it.

What can I say... baaaaaaah

SJ

Having ZERO experience with ANY mp3 player Mac or otherwise, I have no comment on this discussion.

I just wanted to say, my first day back on the internet and look where I came first! Are you not so proud? (OK, so Dave2 was heads and you were tails ...) XOXO :>)

Neil

Yay, I get to be obnoxious for once and disagree with everyone! Come on, Kevin, Apple has been doing the same campaign for years saying that the Mac is for artsy individualists compared to the dullards who use a PC. Their campaign is so successful you have people view the PC as a middle-brow machine. Granted, the Mac is better for graphic arts, etc., but most people are into it for the hipness factor. I know this as a fact, because I've been that person myself. I use a PC now, and for most purposes, it works just as well. I have no idea of the quality of the Sandisk, but I think they are smart to try to break the mystique of Apple. It probably won't work, but you can't be the dominant player AND the hip individualist. Some "cooler" product could clearly come and steal some market share from iPod by calling them "the one everyone uses, including your mother."

Kevin

Sandra, thanks for the link. Will check it out.

Nicole, does seem rather juvenile, doesn't it?

Nat, God knows that modern radio plays its part in that sheep mentality, doesn't it?

SJ, woo hoo! I feel special. ;-)

Neil, the difference being, as I recall, Mac never made Windows users out to be idiots. They did play on the strengths of their systems as opposed to Windows and claimed that Mac OS can do things that Windows cannot. And they did make the kitsch appeal. But they were never blatantly negative or hostile about it.

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