Archive for Privacy

N64 Kid in BMW Commercial

Whoa. What a strange convergence of things.

Tonight was the first time K and I watched an episode of “Battlestar Galactica” as it actually aired. [Side note: Boring! Maybe it was having to suffer through the commercials.]

But one of them begun with a familiar scene. Here’s the full video:

I wasn’t sure where it was going, except that maybe it was an updated commercial for the Wii (looks like the video was taken down, dang).

The marketers are getting smarter and smarter. Hitting the scifi fan, gamer, viral/Web 2.0, gearhead demographic in that sweet spot. Except for the fancy car thing, they nailed me perfectly. Ha ha! Too bad I have no interest in buying a BMW, despite their attempts to swathe it in gamey goodness.

Damn, just realized I’m doing the work for them by blogging about it. Tricky! Um, buy a hybrid! Walk more, take the bus…


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Nintendo DS is the New Viagra

DS Lite is the New ViagraMy work email account gets spammed horribly. Guess they found a way around the munging tool I used to scramble all of the clickable email addresses on our website. Fuckers.

Clearing out my junk folder this morning, I spied the subject line “Nintendo DS system” from a sender named “Hummer Lexus”.


I guess this means the DS is now in the same league as horny college sluts and the iPod: a commodity ostensibly desired by enough people that it’s now become a spam or phishing lure.

Either that or this is a highly targeted spam campaign–which would be real spooky.

I took a screenshot of the full email message. Click the thumbnail for a larger view.

Spam email using DS as lure

Thanks to Cabel for the nifty DS Lite Photoshop template.

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Is Your Privacy Worth 5 bucks?

GameFly RewardsI loves me some GameFly. One of the things that made me really sit up and take notice of them, though, was receiving an email notification that some GameFly Dollars I had accumulated ($5 off a game) were about to expire.

Outside of any cynical suspicions of GameFly Dollars as a clever way to make me feel as if I was saving money when really it might be the opposite, the most immediate thing I thought to myself was, “How sweet of them to remind me.”

I quickly logged in and found a game I wanted, compared the reduced price with what the game was going for on eBay, Amazon and the usual brick and mortar shops, and used up those GameFly Dollars before their impending expiration. Woo-hoo!

But get a load of the most recent “offer”: save $5/month on your GameFly membership if you sign up to watch commercials on some website called BrightSpot.

First impulse: save more money? Hell yeah.

Second thoughts: BrightSpot would customize the commercials I see based on my unique interests. Hmmmmm.

If there were a way for me to sign up for BrightSpot anonymously, I might consider this. Though I can be extremely susceptible to advertising, I actually like watching some commercials. That “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes” show that used to air, with Dick Clark and Ed McMahon, sometimes had segments on commercials from around the world. I used to love those. And there was a time when I would tune in to the SuperBowl just to see all the commercials.

But in order to collect on that juicy $5 discount, I’d need to link my GameFly and BrightSpot accounts. Which means my rental and purchase history, name, address and credit card information, systems I own and whatever else GameFly collects would be at the disposal of advertisers and marketers.

[I realize it may already be since BrightSpot and Gamefly look to be linked pretty tightly together, if not already siblings under the same parent company.]

No thanks.

It looks like they’re trying to utilize certain Web 2.0 aspects with this strategy. Get viral by recruiting “sneezers” to view your content and pass it on to their friends. Leverage the power of the network by requesting feedback on each spot. For each commercial viewed, offer credits to various online subscriptions–looks like GameFly’s the first for now.

Get consumers to do the work for you. Offer them an immediate reward that creates the perception of a hot deal. The exchange? Data mine their tastes, preferences and personal information so you can target them even more effectively for marketing.

Sneaky. Sleazy? I’m still trying to decide, but something just doesn’t feel right. Needless to say, I’m not opting into this partnership. I already feel like there’s too much to track when it comes to my privacy, and that I’ve either unwittingly given it up or found it eroded from underneath me given all the high profile privacy violations that have recently surfaced.

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Brand Loyalty

The KingI'm pretty susceptible to advertising. Or at least I've noticed this when it comes to fast food. I can count on one hand (OK, maybe two) the amount of times that I've seen a commercial for some sort of crispy chicken thing on TV and gone out to try it within hours. Invariably hating myself afterwards for expecting the taste to be anything more than the oil in the fryer.

Let's just get it out of the way now. While the King character/brand is appealing and funny in a creepy kind of way, BK Chicken Fries are just plain nasty.

I've been meaning to create a new category for this blog about Privacy concerns, or something like that. A place to examine some of the stray threads my paranoid mind has plucked out of the air. There would likely be some overlap with another category, Social justice/change, or something. But, like everything else with this blog, it'll have to wait.

Let me just jump to the DS stuff now. I've had my Nintendo DS for less than a year, and I'm a freak for it. This also happens to coincide with a reawakened appetite for video games in general.

In any case, I make a practice of not registering my products. Marketers likely know everything there is to know about me anyway, but I'm trying to be more aware of the information I voluntarily give up.

But dangle a shiny bauble, or pink stylus, in front of me and I'm yours. Suckers who registered their copy of Kirby Canvas Curse (a game I still need to review) were sent a bright pink stylus. Registering three items, I quickly learned, got you three free copies of Nintendo Power. A slippery slope slathered with the grease of a hundred chicken fries.

When you willingly fill out surveys to enter a feedback loop with companies whose products you spend a large portion of your time with, you're pretty much heavily invested, don't you think? There's only one corporation I've sold (most of) my soul to: Apple Computer. But Nintendo has created some potent brand loyalty in me with the DS and the impending release of the Wii.

I actually look forward to filling out their game surveys on my registered products; believing somewhere in my heart that it has a direct effect on the games I play and enjoy. Someone disabuse me of this notion if you know something to the contrary or feel a need to hit me with a cynicism stick.

The latest survey arrived last Friday. This one was for Brain Age (another game whose review is long overdue. Perhaps I should just compile a list of what I'm currently playing. And if there's no review for it, just assume I'm too busy loving and playing it to write one.)

Here are a few screenshots of some of the questions. Sorry for the crappy layout, will try to figure out a better way to do this in the future. (Apparently no love for in the last screenshot–what up with that?)

Brain Age survey screen shot

Brain Age survey screen shot 3

Brain Age survey screen shot 4

Brain Age survey screen shot 5

Brain Age survey screen shot 6

I left some pretty extended feedback when certain questions prompted it. This makes me think of a friend whose boyfriend works at Snowblind Studios. I hear about some of the outrageous requests and scarily obsessive mail that regularly comes in.

I wonder if all my earnest feedback and good faith is just another means of giving up certain kinds of information about myself that I can't see from where I am right now. If it will ultimately be used in ways I don't approve of. Even with all of my brain training, I don't have an answer.

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