I Think, Therefore I Am… I Think
(Penso, logo… existo? )

You’ve heard about the kid who created a million dollar site? Which one? Whichever. Everybody knows creative kids. And has one at home – or wishes they did, so they could tell their friends they did. A child prodigy who creates a million dollar business makes for great marketing. 

Whether he exists or not. 

The human figure gives products personality, creating a feeling of intimacy. I remember when the first Chevrolet Opala arrived in my hometown. The car lot overflowed with the curious, and the salesman asked a youth to drive the car to its display. When the boy’s father saw this, he exploded, "That’s my son!"His chest puffed with pride as he pointed at the red car. 

"In the future," wrote Andy Warhol, "everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." To me, the launch of the Chevy Opala in my hometown was the beginning of this predicted future. The Internet, however, in allowing children to do fantastical things, bequeaths much more than fifteen minutes of fame. Rogues, tomboys, Little Red Riding Hood, Granny or whoever will be targetable. 

Every marketer knows that products and services need a face and personality. If it weren’t like that, there would be no market for models. Sometimes a business owner will brand their image on the product. Paul Newman winks at you onwww.newmansown.com in a marketing maneuver he himself calls "Shameless exploitation of a well-known face." His face is on every page of the site, selling popcorn, sauce, candy and ice cream. Since its founding in 1982, his non-profit enterprise has donated a hundred million dollars (US) to charitable institutions. 

The formula, in which Paul Newman raises money for charitable activities, works for other businesses as well. My cookies – and I flip for cookies – carry a picture of the business’ owner on the box. An older man, starched white shirt and tie, in an executive pose, saying, "I made these." Need I say more? How can one not have confidence in a product with a picture of the owner on the box? He takes a ruler to hand – or face – in the event that one finds fault with the product’s quality.

Technology allows your face and body to be used in virtual marketing campaigns. In the game Tomb Raider (www.tombraider.com), the character Laura Croft blows animals away while blowing hearts away as a muse for a new generation of virtual beings. With less muscles and more charm, Webbie Tookay, the virtual model from Illusion2K (www.illusion2k.com), is the envy of everyone who aspires to the catwalk. Since AnaNova (www.ananova.com) began anchoring the daily news in a virtual broadcast, virtual singers have followed in her footsteps, including E-Cyas (www.e-cyas.com). 

Being virtual is not restricted to businesses and products, but includes clients. You can become a virtual model to try on clothes you are considering buying at the site Just4Me (www.just4me.com), from JC Penney. The system is from My Virtual Model (www.myvirtualmodel.com). Once you have completed a questionnaire with your measurements and physical characteristics, you stuff yourself into the screen to try on clothes. The store might have problems with returns; after all, what woman would reveal her measurements honestly? 

Where are virtual models going? In the prehistory of interactivity, some sites automatically showed photos and products based on information gathered in previous visits; imagine marrying this with virtual you technology. Client information banks will be like the drainpipes of a new age, revealing details of your life for a system generating virtual yous. Now, when you think about turning on the microwave or television, your digitized mother will appear on a screen suggesting that you take vitamin ‘X’. 

Sprint’s Advanced Technologies Laboratory is working on Chase Walker, a virtual character for high-speed networks. Very close to being human, with facial expressions and voice, he would respond to users’ voice commands. In a not too distant future, companies such as Widesoft could have their own virtual model. The complexity of information technology could be humanized by gaining a face. To be more realistic, it could be connected to a program capable of researching themes of interest, since e-business is a subject more or less like this article on virtual yous 

Woah! Will?! No I’m absolutely certain that I’m real. I think, therefore I am. I think. 


Translated by Aaron Bihari

Mario Persona é consultor, escritor e palestrante. Esta crônica faz parte dos temas apresentados em suas palestras. Veja emwww.mariopersona.com.br

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