Thursday, March 13, 2008

Will it blend?

I am heading up the science fair committee for our local elementary school, and we had a meeting today about planning our April 11 event for a hundred kids ages 5-10. (Yesterday I served as an IEEE judge for the Santa Clara County science fair, the championship for kids ages 11-18).

Today I heard that one of our fourth graders is doing a project about blending money — which brought the observation from another parent that he must spend too much time watching “Will It Blend?”

Sure enough, browsing to the “Will It Blend?” website, the featured video clip is “The iPhone. Will It Blend?” This was an absolutely fascinating video — eliciting a wide range of feelings from curiosity, ghoulish humor, and scientific reflection. The ending — when they pour out the results of the iPhone smoothie — is not to be missed.

The videos hosted by Tom Dickson (a crazy combination of Mr. Science and cable TV ginzu salesman) are segregated into two categories: try this at home and don’t try this at home. The latter category (which includes the iPhone) features the most outrageous and popular of the genre.

In addition to entertainment, it’s also a brilliant business model — as clever an advertorial as I’ve ever seen. The site is run by Blendtec, a maker of consumer and commercial blenders, which promotes the website (and vice versa) for both types of blenders.

They swear they use one of their consumer blenders (the “Total Blender”), which is the low end of their consumer product line (let alone commercial), but at $600 list ($400 street) would be considered a luxury blender by Wal-Mart or Costco standards.

There’s no explicit ad, but everything is an implicit testimonial: the videos can be embedded in websites, reposted to YouTube, or otherwise promoted via word of mouth. If ever there was a way to position a premium-priced product, this is it.

Like YouTube and most other short clip services, it uses Flash — good for Macromedia, bad for iPhone users. Dickson said the iPhone smoothie was by request of his YouTube fans, so expect to see it among the YouTube most viewed videos soon.

1 comment:

Wild Learning Center said...

When organizing a science fair it is important that you provide the students with guidance on both what they can do and what they can't do. In regards to the blending money experiment, I would check into the laws regarding defacing money.