Monday, June 16, 2008 says fake online campaign kicks butt has a message for people like me who are a little skeptical about the effectiveness of online advertising: "kiss my derrière."

Last week,
Philadelphia Media Holdings ran ads on the web and in the Inquirer and the Daily News for Derrie-Air, "the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline." The ads clicked through to a landing page that described Derrie-Air's unique pricing strategy:

The magic comes from our one of a kind "Sliding Scale"—the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B. So we will charge passengers based on how much mass they add to the plane. The heavier you and your luggage are, the more trees we'll plant to make up for the trouble of flying you from place to place.
Prices were listed by the pound--$1.40/lb. from Philadelphia to Chicago, for example--and customers were offered amentities ranging from "spacious private washrooms outfitted with porcelain fixtures and gilded faucets" to "loofah scrubs." For anyone who still didn't get the joke, this disclaimer appeared at the bottom of the page:
The Derrie-Air campaign is a fictitious advertising campaign created by Philadelphia Media Holdings to test the results of advertising in our print and online products and to stimulate discussion on a timely environmental topic of interest to all citizens. All names, identities, characters, persons, whether living or dead, companies, situations, offers, products, services, and other information appearing in this campaign and the associated website are fictitious. Any resemblance to real or fictitious names, identities, characters, persons, whether living or dead, companies, situations, offers, products, services, or other information, is purely coincidental and unintentional. In other words, smile, we're pulling your leg.
So what were the results of the "test"? According to, the campaign garnered a 1.25% click rate, "well above the U.S. industry average 0.05%*."

Now, I don't want to seem like the fun police, and I give credit for having a sense of humor. But I also think the campaign outperformed most online ads mainly due to referrals from:
  • People who got the joke and wanted to share it
  • People who were curious and wanted to check things out more closely (in other words, people who were tricked into clicking)
  • People in the ad industry who heard about the campaign
  • People at who were proud of their own work
So was the Derrie-Air campaign representative of how online advertising truly performs? No. But it does reveal something that's true of all advertising efforts: create a remarkable product that seems too good to be true, and you'll get attention. Of course, that attention only matters if your product really exists.

*A rep recently gave me an industry average of 0.02%. Sounds like Derrie-Air's pricing isn't the only thing with a "sliding scale."

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