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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Derivative work alert: Walmart vs Target

At the AAAA conference yesterday, Facebook VP of Media Sales Mike Murphy spoke about successful sponsorships and referenced Target's "Brave New Dorm Room" group as a good example. (Search "Target" within Facebook and it should be the first result.) Target gives people tips, content, product sharing capabilities (compare wish-lists with your future roommate), and links to Target. The execution is nice, and—type-A design freak that I am—I would have loved this when I was in college. (I'm sure my roommates are thankful this application did not exist.) Cool idea.

Fast forward 24 hours to a Reuters article announcing that Wal-Mart is launching the identical program:

The world's largest retailer on Wednesday is launching the "Roommate Style Match" group on Facebook, a social networking site that has millions of college-age users, in the hopes of grabbing a larger chunk of back-to-school shopping dollars.

Facebook users who join the Wal-Mart group will be able to take a quiz to determine their decorating style and get a list of "recommended products" they can buy at Wal-Mart to mesh their style with their roommate's.
Disappointing to see Wal-Mart following versus innovating once again. Should be interesting to see which group gets better traction, if any. Informal discussion with our interns indicated this wasn't topping their list of groups to use.


Seth said...

also disappointed with facebook "selling" the same program. of course, it's wal-mart's money and responsibility to innovate but facebook as a media company is selling the same templated shiznit everyone else is just in their cool new "social utility."

Anonymous said...

I think the larger issue is the limitations of executions on Facebook. One of the key differences between Facebook and MySpace is that on Facebook, advertisers can't actually create "profiles"... rather, they can only create "interest groups", or more recently, an application that interfaces with the Facebook API.

I don't have an issue with Facebook selling the same program. Facebook sells sponsored groups to anyone... It's Wal-Mart's fault that they're creating such an "un-original" idea. Although it was interesting that at the AAAA conference, Facebook said they've turned down advertisers for irrelevant campaigns... I guess "derivative" isn't subject to the same scrutiny.

salina said...

Facebook need to keep a lid on the amount of sponsored content allowed on its site. I was reminiscing this weekend about the early days of facebook, when it was a place to keep up with friends and joke about befriending "sadam houssien." Could be that I am just resisting change, but sometimes I get a hint of the feeling that it's becoming a shopping mall with companies hawking shit all over. Oooh, the cynic emerges!

alyson said...

It feels a bit like getting the same birthday present from two of your classmates, Wal-mart being the kid who showed up after gifts had been open because he got hopelessly lost en route. And his gift isn't even wrapped attractively. Later you discover your best friend thought that's what you really wanted, and as you question her taste, you wonder whether she's still the kind of person you want to hang out with. For now you still do, because she's the one with the great pool where all your other friends hang out, plus her mom always provides treats for everyone. But still ... why did she tell them both to get the same gift?