On Friday, we received this e-mail from a concerned reader:
A party was going on a few doors down from my friend's apartment complex in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. My friend said that she'd been invited to the party earlier in the day by the tenant of the apartment (with whom she was only a casual acquaintance) with promises of "Guitar Hero on the XBox360, great tunes coming from the Zune, and free beer." When we stopped by we found two dozen college students relaxing, drinking, playing Guitar Hero, in a room covered with posters for Microsoft's mp3 player, the Zune. After some free social lubricant (MGD), the host told us the whole story: Microsoft paid him to host parties like this. As long as he documented the party with pictures, he was reimbursed for all the expenses and paid a little extra for his "trouble." What sort of marketing is this? Does it happen with a lot of other mega-corporations? If so, how do I get such a sweet gig?
Good questions all. Also: Huh? It was obvious from the start that Microsoft was going after a younger, hipper demographic with the Zune, from the inclusion of pre-loaded indie rock tracks to adds featuring pretty young people lolling around in Zune-induced bliss. (Hey, at least one guy took it to heart.) But this seems pretty silly if only because it's so transparent. Do these things work? Also, is this an isolated incident or are there underground Zune-and-Guitar Hero parties happening all over the country?
One final question: Do we need to get in on this action? If I promised to send readers, say, a bunch of A.V. Club and a case of Kool-Aid packets, would it help spread the word? Would you take pictures?