4-D Mambos With IBM, Compaq, Others

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A viral marketing spoof of the hit song "Mambo No. 5" along with a cartoon of chefs in an Asian restaurant have combined to draw big-name clients and a mountain of e-mails to 4-D Marketing Inc.

"Combo #5" was sent out roughly a month ago and has generated interest among such clients as Universal Studios, IBM and Compaq. "I have a list of 50 or 60 companies that want to work with us from parrot shops to CEOs of start-ups," said B.J. Bueno, president of 4-D Marketing, a digital marketing consulting company in Orlando, FL. "It has worked miracles."

The site, 4Dmarketing.com, went from 100 hits a month to 10,000, according to Bueno. "We get about 30 fan mail e-mails a day and about 10 requests for work," he said.

The success of "Combo #5" mirrors that of NVision Design Inc., which leveraged a number of pass-along e-mail games such as "Elf Bowling" into $2.7 million in gross profits last year, a stable of blue-chip clients and the inevitable acquisition of the company by Vectrix.com, Dallas.

4-D Interactive is a relatively smaller operation that has done Flash-based animation for Profnet.com, a catalog for Ralph Lauren and CD-ROMs for the Fountainebleau Hilton and Universal Studios City Walk.

Much like some of the Net's other viral marketing success stories, the cartoon was created as a way to show off for a potential customer. It was never designed to be a marketing tool. "I sent it to one person and then they sent it to their co-workers," said Bueno. "I knew it [had taken off] when somebody from Australia called me and said 'I saw your cartoon. It's hilarious. I want you to do my site.' "

Icon Nicholson LLC, New York, an Internet services company, launched a similar accidental campaign for the holidays in 1998. Its "Snowcraft" game, which features children who bean each other with snowballs, has reached more than 1 million people, according to the company estimations. The company sent out 2,000 e-mails with the game attached as way to thank friends and clients in December 1998. A year later, they were receiving three to four e-mails a day from people who had received it.

4-D Marketing has a number of plans on the drawing board for a follow-up cartoon and will send the piece to its database of fan e-mail addresses that numbered around 500 at press time.

According to Bueno, the beauty of viral marketing is that you need only a month to know whether it worked or not. "If they're successful, you will know. You will get the feedback. You don't have to wait 10 months or a year."

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