Proselytizing for Fun and Profit

rob zombie.jpgIf you want to read a succinct case study of successful Word of Mouth marketing/PR campaigns, the Los Angeles Times has it for you today. Charles Duhigg profiles the eight-year old, Silver Lake-based firm M80 that charges its entertainment clients healthy fees to find the “superfans” of entertainers like Rob Zombie or TV shows like “Highlander” and then get them to make superfans of others they encounter, especially on the Internet.

The fans don’t get paid. You can’t fake their kind of passion and you can’t buy it. Do the superfans feel used? Not really. They’re fans. My son will be eternally grateful to the superfans M80 unleashed on behalf of the satirical cartoon “Family Guy.” Deployed to promote the DVD, their activism forced Fox to order new episodes of the show.

But that’s not all the superfans get out of the experience, according to the Times:

Who are M80’s superfans? Kathleen Mayo of Austin, Texas, discovered the company when she was surfing the Internet to confirm rumors that one of her favorite television shows, the sci-fi epic “Highlander,” was about to come out on DVD.

Mayo, 32, had spent much of her life feeling socially uncomfortable. In high school, she said, “maybe 10 people out of 3,600 even knew my name. I was used to being ignored.”

But through M80, she discovered a community of other “Highlander” fans who were eager to teach her how to be outgoing enough to approach strangers online.

“M80 gave me a reason to put myself out there,” said Mayo, who estimated that she spent as many as 10 hours a week volunteering. “M80 team members taught me how to start a conversation. It’s been so important in helping me come out of my shell.”

You can check out M80’s “Online Team” site for yourself. They’re recruiting fans for eight or nine different entertainment properties, from a WWII show called “Over There,” to DVDs of chestnuts like “Hill Street Blues” and the movie “9 to 5,” to a singer named Rocco Deluca, “recommended if you like: Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper, Travis.”  You can even become a member if you want to unleash your inner superfan…or overcome social anxiety disorder.

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