Viral marketing and technical tomfoolery

Two of my recent PC Plus features have gone online. First, a look at viral marketing:

The return of the Wispa is a classic example of canny viral marketing in action. In 2007, 93 Facebook groups spontaneously appeared, with 14,000 people demanding the return of the chocolate bar. When Iggy Pop played Glastonbury, crazed chocolate addicts stormed the stage with ‘Bring back the Wispa’ banners.

‘My goodness, what a surprise!’ said Cadbury’s. ‘Those stage invaders certainly weren’t actors, and those Facebook groups definitely weren’t the work of viral marketers! We had no intention of relaunching Wispa, but who are we to argue with the entire internet?’ We’re paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Then, some PC-related pranks that (probably) won’t get you fired.

Pranks that take an age to set up usually aren’t worth it. So, while it’s possible to grow grass in someone’s keyboard or go crazy with the toolbar buttons in Office 97, that’s an awful lot of effort for relatively little reward. We prefer more subtle tweaks: system tools turned to the dark side, software that appears to have a mind of its own and, of course, demonic PC possession.



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0 responses to “Viral marketing and technical tomfoolery”

  1. I actually met the guys with the banner at iggy pop before they went on stage, they seemed like really nice guys too.

  2. Squander Two

    Small world.

    Love the practical jokes. If you’re going to make fake error messages, this is a godsend.

    frock.c:203: stealthy fault in ‘flying_carpet()’ – not enough palm trees

    I once saw a great list of practical jokes to play on IT support. My favourite was to turn your computer off and go and get a support person because it’s not working. They turn it back on, of course, after a minute or two of puzzlement. Repeat every twenty minutes.

  3. mupwangle

    >>I once saw a great list of practical jokes to play on IT support.

    Yes, because we don\’t get enough completely daft calls without people making them up. You genuinely do get calls where you have to ask the user if they\’ve pressed the power button and they haven\’t. I\’ve probably mentioned it before, but I got a call that someone\’s PC wasn\’t working, went down and it\’d been stolen and they didn\’t notice as they didn\’t take the monitor or keyboard.

  4. mupwangle

    No idea where all the “\” characters came from there.

  5. Stephen

    they didn\’t notice as they didn\’t take the monitor or keyboard.

    But the monitor and keyboard are the computer. The thing that they are plugged into is just some kind of power supply, isn’t it?

    The best is asking a user to right-click on the desktop to get the display menu, and the user says “nothing happens”. You go over to investigate, and they’ve written “click” on their desk using a marker…

  6. When I was a student, a friend of mine spent the Summer working for Sky, and got some great stores. My favourite was the engineer installing Sky at a pub who managed to get all the clientele standing outside watching the satellite, waiting for the big beam of light to come out of the sky and hit it, thus activating Sky, while he sat inside the pub watching Sky Sports.

  7. mupwangle

    I did convince someone, briefly, that they’d managed to break the entire internet. Also, during the same conversation, I’d managed to make them refer to it throughout by it’s proper name – The Super Electric Interweb.

  8. Care in the Community has a lot to answer for.

  9. I used to look after various IT systems when I was in the RAF. There were some daft problems, notably brightness being turned all the way down (“I could still hear it beeping!”) and the power being turned off at the wall.

    When I was away on detachment one Sergeant was complaining that his dumb terminal wasn’t working. It turned out that he’d managed to confuse keyboards with the system next to the one he was using and didn’t notice that everything he was trying to type was appearing on the wrong monitor.

  10. Gary

    Haha, I’m loving this thread :)

  11. mupwangle

    We had a helpdesk operator a month or so ago remote onto someone’s machine yet couldn’t see the blurriness on the monitor. We’ve had the same with screen rotation too.

    We has the dumb too sometimes. I’ve emailed people to ask them to contact me about their email problem and leaving voicemail for people with no phone. The sad thing is though, that that counts as meeting your Service Level Agreement.

    >>My favourite was to turn your computer off and go and get a support person because it’s not working.

    I watched someone in a callcentre wind up the guy next to him. The guy had some sort of phone issue, which was why he was on to the helpdesk initially, but it also meant that he kept turning away from his screen to use the phone on the desk opposite. Every time he did, his mate, who was on a call at the time and managed not to laugh, kept rotating his screen using the keyboard shortcuts. This must’ve gone on for about 20 minutes.

  12. When I worked at TeleTech, one of the team leaders was clearly of the “If a message pops up, keep hitting Enter until it goes away” school of thought. We’d get these emails from her, and the only explanation for them was that Outlook was set to spell-check automatically before sending and she didn’t know this and she wasn’t reading the messages that popped up and seeing what they actually were. She must have thought there was some bug with Outlook where you had to hit Enter a dozen times to send each mail.

    Even her own name was amended. Every time.