Some of the most popular videos on the Internet in recent weeks have shown how you can use a cell phone to pop popcorn, YouTube is rife with the images of three or four phones surrounding a few kernels on a coffee table, then someone calls the phones and the radio signal supposedly heats the popcorn so quickly that it pops in a matter of seconds.
The videos were e-mailed around the world, sometimes with messages that said, “This is why you should never use a cell phone.” The implication was that if cell phones could do this to a few kernels of popcorn, what would happen to your brain?
It all turned out to be an entertaining and viral marketing campaign, put together by a small Bluetooth headset company named Cardo Systems. The company, based in Pittsburgh, devised the videos to promote the use of its headsets.
Some of the videos showed they came from Cardo Systems; others did not. A number of videos showed people trying to do it themselves without knowing it was a hoax. Other people had fun with the idea – one video showed someone using popped popcorn to explode an iPhone.
There’s no doubt the videos were a huge success, at least in the number of viewers. More than 15 million people have watched them since Cardo Systems put up the first ones May 28.
Abraham Glezerman, CEO of Cardo Systems, called the videos an “unconventional way” to reach a global audience that normally would have required a very large marketing budget. Besides the video viewers, Glezerman and Cardo have been featured in stories on CNN, ABC and the New York Times.
“We did it as a means of getting buzz,” he said, even if the videos didn’t explicitly promote the Bluetooth headsets or his products. “It created discussions, blogs, letters, a worldwide debate.”
So, is it possible to use a few phones to pop popcorn? “Anyone knows it would take 10 million handsets to accomplish something like that,” said Glezerman. “I was quite surprised that some people took it for real.”