hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

March 30, 2005

Don't recreate the wheel that has already been created: The fine art of creating a satirical marketing site (and using the word "create")

UPDATE (April 9, 2005): Unfortunately, word around the campfire is that the software is no joke. Or it is an elaborately developed joke. Or something. Fear not, gentle readers, our heroes at have prepared for a battle royale.

UPDATE (April 6, 2005): If you haven't seen , yet, please go spend some time there. If it is a joke site, then it's genius. Satirical marketing at its best. And a software tool to boot. If it isn't a joke, then it is just plain scary. And worth a look, anyway. Thanks to for the link.


I can feel them coming. A whole new crop of satirical marketing sites. So, I'm making preparations. Stockpiling supplies. Preparing for the worst. But most of all, I'm hopeful that the people building these things look to those who have gone before them. Otherwise all the energy they spend on funny may be for naught.

Back in the day, the granddaddy of them all was , ' satirical treatment of the vapid world of dotcom identities. At the time, the site often served as a means of relieving my pain through humor, and it remains the first thing that pops to mind when I see three-word taglines, punctuated by periods.

And then, of course, there's , which continues to run strong as your premiere source for demotivating your employees. Any type of demotivational paraphernalia you're seeking is likely to be found here. The has always been one of my favorites.

I tend to throw Pinch in there, as well. This was Brad Johnson's (co-founder of Second Story, one the premiere interactive shops in Portland, Oregon, and arguably, the world) original interactive showreel, from 1994 (!). While not a direct jab at marketing, this truly brilliant piece does a fantastic job of selling you a wooden clothespin. Heady stuff for an outdated concept. I keep my Macintosh LCIII around just so I can watch it from time to time. It really is an amazing piece.

But the rest of the satirical sites were few and far between. And apparently, not that memorable. Why didn't they stick? Where did they go? They certainly were a breath of fresh air. Especially for a young, impressionable marketing type. And this is the very type of influence and fame you should be seeking, young grasshopper. The memorable ones, not the others. Stick with me.

I am giving you these links, because it appears that the sites of this ilk are making a bit of a rebound. No doubt, you've considered building one yourself. I am not surprised. In my estimation, the pervading sense of ennui here in the United States coupled with the general distaste for continually poor marketing is again taking its toll. The satirical sites are beginning to spring up again. Ah, halcyon days.

The one that seems to be getting the most ink is . I first caught wind of this little gem in the "Off topic" portion of the San Jose Mercury News' daily email. Their tagline really says it all: We do stuff (tm). But as usual, I felt a little late to the party. My research showed that it had been around for quite some time. 2002 to be exact. Where was I?

Yet, I see it making the rounds, even today. Even B.L. Ochman, who I like to think is a bit more in the know than I, just blogged about the site a couple of weeks ago. I mean, she's been on Oprah. She should know about this stuff. And so should you Mr or Mrs I'm-going-to-make-a-funny-ha-ha-marketing-site.

So that got me to thinking. And that got me to worrying. Maybe I'm not so out of it. Maybe some people don't know about these sites. Maybe there is a reason to write them down. Lucky you. You get to read this filler. And you get to see what's already been done so you don't redo it.

But I digress. Back to Huhcorp. The site, developed by Element, is a very sharp critique of marketing consultants, pulled together in a extremely well-designed and well-written way. To wit:

Our creative team will come up with design and marketing ideas you never even thought of. How could you? You don't have the talent we do. Don't take it personally. That's our job. That's what we do. We do stuff.

Most consulting companies just provide regular marketing solutions. Not us. We provide groundbreaking solutions. Our marketing solutions are newer than anyone else's, and they sound better because we give them cool titles like "Global Awareness Paradigms," and "Market Consciousness Philosophies," and "Creative Product Re-development Support."

The other satirical site that has been getting a great deal of well-deserved praise as of late is 's Manure Madness/. Filled with the same wit as Why business people speak like idiots, the site pits hyperbolic annual reports against one another to find the one that stands above all others as the "Shining Beacon of Business Idiocy." It's a perfect example of why I say these people are geniuses, even though some of the book falls flat. Well worth the trip. (UPDATE: For a concise summary of Manure Madness and the Final Foul, see "Vacuous and Idiotic Annual Reports" over at .)

And today, I stumbled upon Herring & Waffleman. While it feels a bit forced, it's still worth a trip. You'll at least get a chuckle or two. And they deserve a few hits for trying. I'm sure it will get better with time.

No doubt, there are innumerable other such sites currently under development. I am fearful that they will become as prevalent as blogs. So, read ahead, kiddies. See what's been done. Learn from past mistakes and steal well from those memorable sites that continue to bring people in droves. Because, honestly, what good is a satire if no one ever sees it? Or worse yet, if your brilliant satire is only a dull copy of something much better?

Have some satirical sites that make you gasp for breath? I'd love to hear about it, as would the other readers. After reading this drivel, we could all use a good laugh. So please comment, and when you've created your own marketing satire site, please return.


Don't recreate the wheel that has already been created: The fine art of creating a satirical marketing site (and using the word "create")
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