Viral marketing is unpredictable, says Schulich professor

Viral marketing is a sizzling hot concept these days, wrote the National Post July 14. The success stories are the stuff of dreams for business owners with a tiny marketing budget and access to the Internet: To attract the attention of millions who spread the word to millions more. It’s a virtual marketing nirvana.

“It can be very effective when you don’t have any money to spend and it can help create brand awareness,” says Detlev Zwick, professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “But it’s hit and miss, so as a strategy it’s unpredictable.”

That’s not simply because there are no guarantees a campaign will go viral. It’s also because, even if it does go viral, it still might have no real impact on the company, experts say.

However, Zwick says there are good, solid methods for marketing online that are more predictable. “You can establish yourself as a thought leader online,” he says by way of example. “It’s relatively inexpensive to do but it can be extremely successful.”

Aurora’s new integrity commissioner is up for challenge

Full-time corporate ethicists are few and far between, says David Nitkin (MA ‘74), adding there were less than 10 in Canada a decade ago, wrote the Aurora Era-Banner July 13 in a story about the Schulich instructor’s appointment as integrity commissioner for the Town of Aurora.

“A group of about six of us got together and created a professional organization of corporate ethicists,” he said. “At the time, there were six of us and now there are 250…. The idea of a full-time ethicist is still relatively rare.”

Nitkin and his firm, EthicScan Canada Ltd., can often be found working with private, public and non-profit organizations in Canada and around the globe.

Public needs say on Lakeshore towers

Kurt Koster, longtime environmentalist and president of Burlington Green citizens’ group, offered a paper, "Faulty Towers", on the economic, environmental and social implications of highrises by Edmund P. (Terry) Fowler, professor emeritus at York’s Glendon College, wrote Joan Little in a column for the Hamilton Spectator July 14 about a local council meeting where a controversial planning application was approved.

On air

  • Bob Drummond, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about recent polls that show Canadians are tiring of minority government on AM640 Radio July 13.
  • Paul Delaney, professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about yet another delay in the launch of the space shuttle on CTV News July 13.
  • Michael Jenkin, professor in York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about his research in developing an amphibious robot on Discovery TV’s “Daily Planet” July 13.