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How adidas Almost Blew Up Japan | A Cautionary (+ Funny) Tale In Viral Marketing

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"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." corporations, brands, and marketers have all practiced viral marketing ploys, one form or another. Though, many have not fully capitalize it until the entry of adidas Originals. Under the guidance of Chris Barbour, Head of Digital Marketing, the adidas Originals team garnered one of most interactive strategy in field of new media. The results have been exponential in terms of the initial input, including a Facebook page with 3 million members.

However, tapping into uncharted territories also equates to unforeseen consequences as told by Barbour. During yesterday's Most Creative People Conference by Fast Company Magazine, Barbour (who is #76 on the Most Creative People in Business List), served up a cautionary (and very funny) tale of viral marketing gone awry. On the eve of the very important Star Wars Collection last year, a collaborative project with LucasFilms, adidas Originals designed a geo-location application as a preview vehicle. Fashioned after the infamous scene in Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope, where Darth Vader ordered the destruction of Alderaan, home planet to Princess Leia, via the Death Star. The new variant by adidas Originals allowed users to input actual address through Facebook Connect, a satellite image of the location from Google Earth, and then with a single click, activate the fictional Death Star Superlaser. Instead of destruction on a planetary scale, the location would be emblazoned with a mammoth adidas Trefoil logo. Through and through, a fun app to generate buzz for the collection, so thought Barbour. That was till the evening after the application's launch, when a frantic employee from Japan called. It turned out the central server for Tokyo's geo-location was right by the Imperial Palace. Anytime an app user "zapped" a location in Tokyo, the adidas Originals Star Wars Superlaser Application, as its officially known, would "virtually" flatten the Imperial Palace. Only as a ceremonial figure, the Japanese Imperial Household is, nevertheless, revered and respected by its citizens. In fact, despite countless fictional destruction of Tokyo by monsters like Godzilla and Mothra, the Imperial Palace went unscathed in all the films. Before it became an international incident, Barbour and his team sprung into action immediately and the issue was resolved quickly. What's left was a lesson in viral marketing and a very funny conversation piece. via: Fast Company