A couple of new, cheesy personal home pages have started making a buzz on the Net.
Apparently, a lot of people thought they had found the new Mahir.
Like the Turkish wannabe lover whose quaintly naive homepage made him the laughing stock and/or darling of sophisticated Web surfers, Rubberburner and Supergreg seem to be the personal Web pages of people who are hopelessly out of touch.
Rubberburner.com is the home page of Curry, “a slim and handsome race car driver.”
The site shows half-a-dozen glamor shots of Curry wearing a tasteless leather Evel Knievel jumpsuit unzipped to his navel, revealing bare chest and gold locket.
“Bold, handsome, confident, and good-looking are the words that immediately come to my mind when I try to describe my personality,” Curry says. “On second thought, other words that come up are gorgeous, sexy, and brave.”
“This is my home site for all home boys and home chicks, giving U a flava of the Super Greg Concept,” the site says.
Super Greg’s page is also full of snapshots, showing Super Greg wearing an over-tight, bright red tracksuit, making gang hand signals or hanging with his “homies.”
As first noted by Need To Know, a weekly technology newsletter from Britain, the sites are in fact part of a “viral” marketing campaign to sell Lee jeans.
Curry, Super Greg, and a third character called Roy, who is featured on the far less convincing companion site Born to Destroy, are a trio of “villains” invented by the Fallon advertising agency as part of a recently launched advertising campaign for Lee dungarees.
During the campaign, the three villains challenge Buddy Lee, the plucky doll who has been Lee’s long-time mascot, in a series of competitions.
The phony homepages were put together on a whim during breaks in filming of the campaign’s TV spots, said Paul Malstrom, an art director at Fallon who co-created the new campaign with his partner, Linus Kalsson.
Malstrom said he hoped people would see the Web pages, be puzzled but amused, and then – like a virus – pass them on to their friends.
“It was inspired by Mahir and pages like that,” Malstrom admitted. “It felt very natural when we developed these characters that they should have their own Web pages.
“We kind of made them with our left hand and put them up. We didn’t even tell the client…. I guess it gives a little extra dimension to their characters when you see them on TV.”
The strategy appears to have worked. In the last several days the sites have received tens of thousands of visitors every day, according to the agency.
It seems the majority of visitors had no idea the sites were part of an advertising campaign, at least until early this week when the Web publishers started to catch on.
None of the sites make any reference to Fallon, Buddy Lee, jeans, or advertising.
“I initially thought the sites were just personal homepages,” said weblog publisher Ben Tesch, who linked to the sites last week. “It looked like any of the other millions of filler personal sites that go up every day, but the copy and photos were hilarious.”
“When I found out it was part of an advertising campaign, I did what any upstanding American citizen would do: ran to the nearest store and bought 12 pairs of Lee jeans,” Tesch said in an email.
“Do we really want advertising to blend into artistic and personal sites so well that we can’t tell the difference anymore?” said Ryan Gantz, publisher of Sixfoot6 weblog, in a post to MetaFilter. “Both the Curry and Super Greg sites are hilarious, and humorous advertising never bothers me much, no matter how it’s presented.
“But I worry about crafty marketing schemes weaseling their way into content, be it in a website, a movie, or a TV show.”
“If they were branded, they would not be sent around as much,” he said. “I felt it was fun. You get to know these guys a little bit before you see the advert on TV.”