Drew Brees, Micheal Jordan, Call of Duty and SEO Subterfuge
A rather peculiar piece of PR came across my desk yesterday - and by "desk" I mean my inbox. It was a pitch to plug a new Kinect for Xbox 360 initiative - and by "pitch" I mean PR guy hoping I'll write something about his newly begotten client
and by "Kinect for Xbox 360" I mean hopeless little gadget
that plugs into your Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
player and makes you flail around like an idiot in order to play select games that aren't Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
The well-intentioned, refreshingly conversational proposition reads thusly: Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, is working with Kinect for Xbox 360 on a program called the “60 Million Minutes Challenge,” which encourages kids to be active for 60 minutes each day. If Xbox gets to one million kids pledging to do so, it will result in 60 million minutes of active play toward combating childhood obesity (one in three kids are overweight/obese). Kinect for Xbox 360 is the main sponsor of the NFL Play 60 program.
At face value, that seems like a neat idea; a worthy cause, even. And hey, keyword: Drew Brees? That's gotta be worth a fair chunk of random search engine traffic to an article that has little to do with football other than a mention of the New Orleans Saints and its QB. But aside from noble intention and the seamless integration of a couple of hot keywords placed in context, to those of us with sharply honed journalism skills, it's not all that - and by "sharply honed journalism skills" I mean I read it twice and followed the link and read some more.
First of all, the email included a link to Facebook.Xbox60MillionMinutes.com - but by "Facebook.Xbox60MillionMinutes.com" it means "www.facebook.com/xbox?sk=app_114208838731447"; a redirected link attributed to the Xbox60MillionMinutes.com domain in order to make it look like it's getting a lot of traffic and then linking to a high value Facebook page, which is actually the Xbox's Facebook page, though it immediately redirects again to Xbox's 60 Million Minutes Facebook App that only wants you to share all of your personal information for heaven knows what purpose because I sure as hell didn't agree and didn't click through, which is also why I'm not linking directly to any of those domains, because I'm not an SEO subterfuge kind of guy, not unless I can make a buck out of the deal, which, sadly, isn't the case here.
Beside which, you can get a better handle on the initiative at www.xbox60millionminutes.com
. That's also where you can pledge your support without sharing your Facebook information - and by "pledge" it means click a button, probably by accident, because heaven knows you're not actually going to flail around like an idiot for an hour a day along with a million other people who won't either, not with a Kinect for Xbox 360, anyway, though maybe in some other kinetically entertaining fashion, like going outside and tossing the pig skin around with the kids for a minute before it degenerates into 59 minutes of "DOGPILE ON DAD!" Holy cow, two football references! Google's new algorithm
is going to eat this up!
But do a little more investigative journalism and you see the paradox of the initiative - and by "investigative journalism" I mean stare at the pretty picture for a second. For an initiative that is supposedly going to tackle childhood obesity head on by making fat kids promise they'll flail around like an idiot for an hour a day, why are they showing two healthy-looking skinny kids? And while we're at it, since when did Michael Jordan start making Air Uggs
? Seriously, that kid is wearing Uggs and jumping waaaay higher than the little girl in red sneakers. Oh, I know. Photoshop. The kid's probably really fat in real life, too.
What you don't really get from any of this is the fact that this little keyword-intensive exposé on Kinect for Idiots is only trying to ride on the coattails of the clearly inspired NFL Play 60
initiative, which has been up and running for five years now, long before Microsoft got it in their heads that getting people to stay inside and play videogames by flailing might help make them look health conscious - and by "health conscious" I mean not grinding for bonus point by shooting people in the head in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
while sitting on the couch and only moving your thumbs.