Friday, June 22, 2007

Windorphins: when widgets lack a spine

I nearly collided with a colorful sign announcing Windorphins today. It looked like a cross between Tomaguchi and Spore. Friendly amoeba like creatures stared back at me as I tried to make sense of their name. In fact, they are an eBay marketing campaign.

The landing page is a fun tongue in cheek look at Windorphins: 'real' video footage of their discovery, an anatomical look at where they can be found in your body, and of course a lot of links back to eBay.

The fun begins when you make your own. Here is the embeddable widget you end up with:

Make your own Windorph
Make your own Windorph

Windorphins are pure widget silliness. What I like about them is that the Windorphin itself is pure widget. Simple HTML makes it portable to any web page. What I don't like is that they are also pure silliness. A little silliness goes a long way when combined with at least a dash of functionality. Pure silliness remains just that, silly.

I believe most people will have an experience similar to mine. Check out the site, laugh a little at the corny, sort of classic, marketing jokes , make a Windorphin, and move on.

What if...
  • There was some functional backbone behind my Windorphin?
  • It started to look a little lean if I hadn't been back to eBay in a while?
  • I could add more kooky items to it if I bought or sold something on eBay?

That would add another dimension to the Windorphins and amplify the impact of the campaign. I would be more engaged with the technology and hopefully follow an inherent 'call to action' to use eBay. As it stands I had a few minutes of silly fun, spent more time on than eBay, and am left uncertain as to what the grand auctioneer was trying to accomplish.

As we are more thoroughly inundated with these 'viral' campaigns based on lightweight widget technology the payoff needs to be greater. Widgets need a spine. While silliness abounds and is fun, Windorphins have not met their potential.

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