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A Companion to New Media Dynamics by Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, John Hartley

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Chapter 32

Learning from Network Dysfunctionality

Accidents, Enterprise, and Small Worlds of Infection

Tony D. Sampson and Jussi Parikka

In February 2010, a characteristic outbreak of media panic spread through the British tabloid press concerning a new media marketing campaign developed by a company called DubitInsider (2010). In conjunction with affiliated brands—listed on DubitInsider's partner website as including Channel 4, Childline, Disney, Electronic Arts, Jetix, Ludorum, and Mattel—the DubitInsider concept presents a very simple marketing idea. It sought to recruit 13–24-year-olds who consider themselves to be “peer leader[s] with strong communication skills” to act as “Brand Ambassadors.” In short, this required the clandestine passing on of online and offline product suggestions to these youths' peers via fly posting, posting on message boards and social networks, emails, instant messenger conversations, organizing small events, and hosting small parties. Significantly, the campaign ignited the moral indignation of The Sun (Hamilton 2010) and The Daily Mail (Poulter 2010) not simply because of the covert nature of the marketing strategy itself but also because these young Brand Ambassadors were apparently being paid to market “unhealthy” junk foods to minors.

Strategies based on tapping into the spreading of social influence are not particularly new. A reliance on seeking out influential individuals (“Influentials”) has been the mainstay of word-of-mouth strategies and ...

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