Well, K-Fed has gone done and got himself a search engine. Yeah, you heard that right. Kevin Federline, Britney Spearsâ€™ aspiring rap artist ex-husband, has created a branded search portal that awards prizes to people that search on it. Ever wanted a Kevin Federline autograph? How about a Kevin Federline t-shirt? Maybe a copy of his new CD (currently, the 101,563ist best seller on Amazon.com!)? Well, neither have I. But I guess they have to do something will all that wasted merchandise taking up warehouse space, and giving it away to surfers slightly frightened of the sleeping jacket-clad Federline that stares at you as you search is as good an idea as any. (Interesting Amazon-provided facts about people who want to buy Federlineâ€™s CD: They also seem to enjoy purchasing music by both Paris Hilton and Shaquille Oâ€™Neal. Go figure.)
The saddest part about all of this is that I think even the K-Fed search engine could have been successful if it had taken itself a little less seriously and had some fun with the public perception that Federline has accumulated. Imagine, say, instead of a glowering still image of Federline, the site had a Ms. Dewey-style avatar that randomly danced around the page as you searched. Every now and then it would shout out things like, â€œThe inspiration and meaning behind this search is self-explanatory,â€ or â€œMarvin Gaye! Al Green! The baby-making music!â€ or â€œThis is a Brazilian ass-shaker!â€ (all of these real Federline quotes, mind) and then, when you did certain specific searches, like for â€œatomic bomb,â€ heâ€™d say, â€œDamn, thatâ€™s the bomb, yo!â€
Anyway, I jest. Sort of. This seems to me like an offshoot of one of the common laws of popular technologies in marketing which goes like this:
If X = Interesting Technology,
Y = The technologyâ€™s popularity,
And Z = Brand,
Then, as Y approaches infinity, the amount of marketers interested in creating Z-themed Xs increases exponentially.
Thatâ€™s a really long way of saying, â€œEveryoneâ€™s first thought is to create a branded piece of whatever technology is over hyped right now.â€
And, strangely, all in all, this idea isnâ€™t a bad one. Thereâ€™s a ton of examples of exceptionally well executed branded technologies, such as Microsoftâ€™s MsDewey.com search engine, Burger Kingâ€™s Xbox 360 games, or Progressive Insuranceâ€™s damage tally on the â€œThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Driftâ€ HD-DVD. When well done, these ideas can provide a completely entertaining, totally relevant experience for users. And, in certain cases, they actually provide enough entertainment value that people will continue to come back.
In specific, branded search portals have created a lot of buzz and provided some insanely entertaining opportunities. A great example is the above mentioned Ms. Dewey, which employs a snarky, cute, attitude-laden female avatar that makes pointed comments when you search for certain things. Functionally, it doesnâ€™t really provide all that much, but Iâ€™m not embarrassed to say Iâ€™ve spent many hours trying to figure out what I could get her to say. (Okay. Maybe a little embarrassed. But go ahead and ask her where babies come from and see what she says.)
If Federline had created something similar, Iâ€™d probably respond much the way I did with Ms. Dewey, laughing until I cried and then spending hours trying to find all of his little triggers. And, honestly, I think it would probably pretty well portray the idea that Kevin Federline is a fun enough guy that I wouldnâ€™t mind owning one of his t-shirts or even a CD. Heâ€™d be, like, a William Shatner for the new generation and, really, thatâ€™s an awfully huge compliment to have.