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Perpetuating Memes for Fun and Profit

John Federico

There's no doubt that the iPod is hot. It was everywhere this holiday season and just when you thought the excitement might wane, along comes the iPod Shuffle to stir things up again.

Feeding the hype was Apple's award-winning ad campaign featuring the silouhettes of tres chic iPod users on one of 5 solid colorful backgrounds. They're unmistakable. (So unmistakeable that Apple, in it's usual litigious fashion, sent "Cease and Desist" letters to those using variations of it in commercial applications.)

Perpetuating this meme even further is PodaPic.

Send them any photo and they'll "Pod it" by creating a silouhette of the subject and placing it on one of the 5 Apple-selected colorful backgrounds. They'll even include a caption, if you like.

The cost for the privelege of starring in your own private iPod ad? $3.99.

Or for $6.99, they'll produce and deliver 5 photos, one with every color background. (For the Photoshop-aware among you, you know that this part is pure profit - once you've masked the subject, changing the background layer takes miliseconds to do.)

Are people buying them? Consider this: after the launch of the iPod Shuffle, PodaPic began offering photos in the "iPod Shuffle style" which uses a graphic "shuffle" element. I would guess that if demand weren't strong, they wouldn't bother to invest in extending the service further.

I'll admit it: I bought one.

Here's a picture of my two-year old son, enjoying his first ice cream cone this past September while we were on vacation in Long Beach Island.

I have it as part of my rotating desktop patterns and the rotating pictures screensaver on my Powerbook. It's an interesting conversation starter.

Just for sh*ts and giggles, I'm going to order one of myself, one of my wife and one of our cocker spaniel, too. I'll put them in a four-pane picture frame and give it to my wife as a cute (yet hopelessly pop-culture-inspired) Valentine's Day trinket.

Every person who has received one of these picures "just had to know" where I got it, so they could get one themselves.

This type of viral marketing has got to be a huge driver of sales, but I think they should capitalize on spreading the meme even further. Some quick ideas could include:


  • e-cards: enabling customers to create and send e-cards to friends and family using their newly "Podded" pic.

  • Newsletter: send anyone who might be interested - existing customers or casual site visitors - a newsletter with the best pics of the week. Ask customers to opt-in to having their pictures appear in the newsletter. They already have this on their site - adapting it for a newsletter should be trivial.

  • "Pod" celebrities: create and distribute "Podded" pictures of all types of newsworthy individuals using news photos or other freely available images.

The opportunities are endless.

Spread a meme! Make money...