A pyramid scheme proposal

Background: Lenovo has a limited edition, 15th Anniversary product called the ThinkPad Reserve Edition. It’s a good looking, $5,000 ultraportable notebook wrapped in nice leather. It also comes with a white-glove service plan that the Fake Steve Jobs said included ninjas jumping out of helicopters (it doesn’t).

I personally can’t afford a TPRE, but I have been given 20 access codes so the right people can reserve one when they go on sale later this summer. There’s an internal competition for bragging rights to see which person inside the company can build the biggest network through the “refer a friend” function at thinkpadreserve.com

Now, as the only exec at Lenovo with a blog, and being the dude concerned with word of mouth, and viral, and the usual Marketing Jedi Mind Tricks, I have some serious reputation at stake here.

So, here’s the challenge. Help me figure out how to disperse my 20 passcodes so they go forth and multiply into an immense network of potential ThinkPad Reserve Edition buyers.

I am considering:

  1. A blog competition (prize to be determined)
  2. Auctioning the codes on eBay the way some people auctioned GMail invites
  3. Taking my codes to my old private banking buddies in Zurich and Geneva and proposing they give TPRE’s to clients.

Any other bright ideas? If you want a code, ping me.

[update 6.22] Uncle Fester ridiculed the eBay notion, so I ended that auction early, especially when he compared my stupidity to the evil CueCat. Aunt Esther suggests a celebrity auction … me, I want to sell all 5,000 ASAP like the time I sold more fudge than anyone else in Pack 52 of the Georgetown, MA Cub Scouts and won the blue Boys Scouts of America pen and pencil set]

Best Engineered Campaign – The Ultimate Spill Test

Inside the Box » Blog Archive » Best Engineered Campaign – The Ultimate Spill Test

Very interesting to look at comments on the Lenovo ad campaign and realize people are sometimes unwilling suspend belief on what they see — probably due to years of being conditioned by the PC industry to take the advertising at face value around Speeds and Feeds. One commenter on a popular blog said he felt this campaign was no more off-target than men being chased by frantic women in the Axe ads. I dunno about that.

Anyway, a lot of initial reaction was around disclaimers. Matt Kohut at Lenovo’s Inside the Box delivers a great one:

“They talked about dropping a system into a bathtub the night before to try it out, but no one wanted to stick their hand in the tub. They went back and forth saying You do it. No, YOU do it. I’m not sure that they ever did the test, but just went ahead and showed up at NASA and dropped the system into the tank. The result is what you see here.Oh, and the system lasted for 3 seconds. Longer than I think I would have expected it to.”

Case Study: Accelerade® 24-Hour Endurance Run

Accelerade® 24-Hour Endurance Run


“To kick off the national launch of Accelerade, Dean Karnazes will aim high. On June 21, his goal will be to break the world record for a 24-hour distance run on a treadmill (currently set at 153.76 miles) as well as to raise awareness for Athletes for a Cure, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for prostate cancer. The treadmill will be located on a platform attached to the Reuters building in Times Square.”

A rich media ad on some random website caught my eye this morning. A long range view of a man running on a treadmill on a balcony overlooking New York’s Times Square. I clicked through and found this interesting combination of:

  • Live webcam technology tied to rich media banner/display advertising trafficked through multiple sites
  • Smart viral/public campaign strategy hinging on a “stunt”
  • One day stunt — will be interesting to see how Accelerade follows through with this as part of an ongoing campaign.
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