April 13, 2010
 

Blogging For Treasure On "Budget"

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Commandore Norrington: "You are without a doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of."

Captain Jack Sparrow: "Ahhh, but you have heard of me."

So begins a most entertaining treasure hunt between Norrington and Sparrow, played brilliantly by Jack Davenport and Johnny Depp, as Depp does the best imitation and interpretation of a Keith Richards-like Pirate in the film "Pirates Of The Caribbean." It's a Disney film so it may not come as a complete surprise that Depp ultimately saves the girl, slays the pirates, finds the treasure and accomplishes all of this with little more than his wits.

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Joining Sparrow is another pirate, Will Turner, played by Orlando Bloom. Their tale takes place in the Clipper Ship era, but today if they were to repeat their voyage for another bounty of treasure, they would click on to UpYourBudget, an impressive new blog game launched this week by Budget Rent A Car. Another key difference between these adventures is that UpYourBudget players do not know how their quest will end, nor if the treasure will be found at all.

"Pirates" treasure hunt is by sea. "Budgets" is by land. It puts you in the drivers seat with as many challenges, navigating by video and daily clues by blog and email. Jon and Gabe pick up where Jack and Will left off to take you criss-cross the country looking for hints to find the treasure.

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The timing of the blog intro was coincidentally launched on the same day that AdAge reported a Nielsen/NetRatings study which announced that "blogs decrease productivity in the marketplace."

As part of this article, AdAge included research that clearly contradicts this Nielsen. comScore indicates "25% of blog visits directly connect to the job."

One must wonder if Nielsen may soon announce the call for the end of the upfront TV presentations. Perhaps Network buyers should find a more productive use of their time than watching TV. This most likely explains why Nielsen, a "research company" has no blog of their own, given how "inefficient" feedback is to their business :--)

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Here's how the game works:

Players don't have much time. The Treasure Hunt period runs for four consecutive weeks only from October 24, 2005 to November 20, 2005. Never before has there been a 16-city, 4 week cash prize weblog.

Four new locations are selected each Monday of the contest. Search for the treasure by following the video and other clues. In each city, a sticker is displayed in a public place. Players must call the telephone number on the sticker by 11:59 PM EST to get instructions. If the treasure is not found the prize evaporates. One college student reported on the blog that school debt's make him more eager to win than just the bragging rights!

"If" the treasure is found, players have to use a photo or video or make a Hollywood production. Besides the incredible weblog design, created by Design4Results, what's especially intriguing and quite a tease are the video shots Jon and Gabe post in areas north, south, east and west. It makes one rack your brain because they are so familiar and yet not completely identifiable, which tickles a users mind as to where they've seen them before.

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You don't actually have to leave the house. You can "egg on people who actually left the house" on and help them win if you've seen the place by blogging the place and location.

In just less than a week, the buzz has been mind-boggling. People are checking and posting on the blog everyday. The structure of it gives it urgency. People can't skim. They've got to get into it if they want to win. It's a great use of blogging and subtlely helps the Budget brand, for both current users and soon to be potential users.

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The MadAve Journal is particularly engrossed since Budget used Design4Results, the same blog developer who built our daily e-zine. As compared to other blogs, which boast daily monologues and diatribes, UpYourBudget is both very funny and engaging. It challenges you to use your wits, much like Sparrow and Turner. Jon and Gabe post everyday and know their way around a video camera. You find yourself watching each daily video over and over to catch a few more details that may help you win.

Another irony between Pirates and Budget was that Sparrow and Turner often would tell their adversaries exactly what they were trying to do, giving their plans to them directly. They were often laughed off and discounted as ludicrous. Yet Jack and Will always outwitted their opponents. Jon and Gabe also play it straight, giving enough for players to use their wits to win the pot of gold at the end of the drive.

click on Design4Results to learn more about the brain trust behind this blog.

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