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08/04/2010 The Microsite Strikes Back!

There are a lot of words online talking about the death of the microsite and the need to move away from big, splashy campaign sites with a short shelf life. Well rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. The other day I ran into two of them that made me feel like its 2007 all over again.

Vibram Five Fingers makes a very interesting, very buzz worthy product: A shoe or a foot cover (I'm not really sure how to describe it, they call it footwear) to run and exercise in. Their theory, backed up by many authors and scientists, is that the human body evolved to run barefoot and that all of these fancy running shoes with their super-duper technology actually make our legs and knees hurt more. For them, it's about running bare (foot).

Vibram recently launched a microsite called You Are The Technology. It features two attractive, nude models with text written all over their body. You can zoom in to read the slogan-tattoos (sloganoos?) that supposedly reinforce Vibram's message. There's really not much more to do here. The only real challenge with this site is to see if you can sneak peaks at hidden body parts, but I'm not sure the aim of the footwear is to bring out the voyeur in us.


There's not even a link back to the site, or anything interactive here aside from scrolling and zooming. There's no social media connection, even though Vibram is socially active. This microsite might not be dead, but it has a pretty low pulse. I have to admit; I'm surprised people still make things like this.

What did Vibram's Facebook fans think? They barely talked about it, because they're too busy telling Vibram how much they love their product. So, does this help, or just not hurt?

Crispin Porter also launched a microsite for Old Navy, The Old Navy Booty Reader. Again, it's throwback time. CP&B (can I still call them B?) looks to combine old hits using funky horoscopish personalization (CP&B's and Method's Come Clean or The Profiler) with the old product recommender. Very 2006.

Maybe the biggest difference is the use of the Web cam to take pictures of your butt. Seriously, it may sound exciting to some, but it's really not. Maybe if they asked us to take our clothes off like the Vibram models, it would add a little edge (although that would be off brand, right?).

The recommendations are pretty straightforward. Old Navy is asking you to create a proportional map of your derriere (hips, butt, thighs) to create a shape. It then matches the shape to a product line of jeans, and they have a lot of options. I wonder if there was an easier way to get there, or if the idea is that taking the pictures makes the recommendations more "real."

It's too bad they're not doing something like this in store as well, where you can have the mirror measure you and "measure" your shape, while recommending product.

But they did get a discussion going on Facebook that was all over the place.

Maybe the microsite isn't dead. But I'm looking for the evolution and I'm not seeing much here. I'm sure these sites were fun to concept and create. They just feel a little out of step with the times. Maybe I'm looking at these too early in the cycle and they'll connect with subsequent pieces. I hope so.


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