The Travoltification of America

“Rosie Edbrards.”

That, according to the Adele Dazeem Generator is the “Travoltified” version of my name.

Apparently, I am one of about 10 mil­lion unique users who, as this issue of DSN went to press, had entered their name into the interactive name genera­tor game that Slate.com posted to its site within hours of John Travolta having butchered singer Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscar Awards. That item, accord­ing to New York Times media reporter Leslie Kaufman, was “the most viewed article ever in Slate’s 18-year history,” she wrote in a March 6 article.

Granted, I am not much for awards shows, and prior to logging into Slate’s name “Travoltifier,” I must confess I had no idea who Idina Menzel even was, but I knew about the “Adele Dazeem” gaffe long before I knew anything about who won any of the actual Oscars. And that’s not because I start my days reading Slate.com. As the kids say these days, my Face­book was “blowing up” on Oscar night.

Joshua Benton, director of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, calls it “the gamification of content. Take the same dynamics that lead games and social sharing to be addictive and use them in a way to connect to content,” Benton told the Times.

In the news business, some call these types of games “blatant grabs” for view­ers and say they come at the expense of real news. I have never been one of these news purists. The very best journalism is worthless if no one reads it. You can call it lowbrow if you want to — Slate.com actually categorized the Travoltifier as one of its “Low Concept” features on the site. But there is no denying the ability of these types of devices to breakthrough in a sea of online content providers.

Just think about that for a second: Amid countless reports about Oscar night, Slate.com got 10 million unique users to visit the site and become ex­posed to the other 50-odd stories the site posts in an average news day. There is a lesson there for every brand — re­tailers, CPG companies and content providers alike.


Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News and DSN Collaborative Care magazines. You can contact him at reder@lf.com.

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