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ShopLocal, the sales aggregator from Tribune, Gannett and McClatchy, is normally aimed at middle-aged women coupon-cutters. But in a bid to extend its audience, and get a little buzz, a couple of young Turks at the company have created a weekly hipsters’ vLog.

The effort, called “Digital Punch,” has been developed by staffers Patrick Flanagan and Benjamin Nelson as kind of a side project. Subtitled “Cool Stuff, Tech News and More,” and up since October, Nelson acts as the host, and reviews various off-the-beaten path products in a decidedly unconventional manner. For instance, he demonstrates the Solio charger, which he offhandedly notes can be found on ShopLocal for “about $80.”

The vLog is run separately from “Eva the Shopper Diva,” a more conventional, pitchy blog that ShopLocal also produces. Like Digital Punch, that effort is also geared toward “gatherers,” as opposed to ShopLocal’s core strength among retail “hunters” and “scavengers.” But it is unlikely to be considered especially credible by younger Netizens (or certain men in their mid-40s).

To date, nine episodes of Digital Punch have been produced, and it  along with a weekly comedic episode  has gained fairly wide circulation on YouTube, My Space and a wide smattering of other video networks. In fact, Flanagan and Nelson have won distribution on eight primary distribution sites and 29 secondary distribution sites, leading to 10,000 to 20,000 viewers for some of the episodes. “We’re building editorial relationships” with the sites, notes Flanagan.

A separate viral effort by the duo, PropaSyntex, a “weekly comedic viral video,” has distribution on nine sites. One of the funniest episodes has Nelson, in lab coat and goggles, testing the hardiness of a cheap $15 Oster blender being fed Styrofoam bricks, scissors and rocks (hint: it passes the test  up to a point. My wife wants one).

ShopLocal CMO Bob Armour says the company is keenly interested in such noncorporate viral approaches, although it isn’t yet a key priority. As younger Internet oriented professionals, “Benjamin and Patrick are really plugged into this group,” he said. “We’ll see what kind of traction we can get in the viral space.”

Armour adds that the project hasn’t yet led to local or localized applications, since only national brands are being featured. But ShopLocal has been making a concerted effort to include local merchants and services (via a local service directory), and it’s something that might be developed down the road. It may be possible to localize products via FeedBurner’s geo reports.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is interesting, and i think a good move by ShopLocal. This type of viral marketing can be a double edged sword though. Viral (and cheap) exposure can be gained but you can sometimes cede control over what might be a finely tuned marketing message. I don’t think this is a big deal but some companies obviously do.

    Those that can let go of this control will succeed most at viral marketing. It’s all or nothing. Creating a viral marketing campaign that only tries to cloak a sales pitch (like Sony WalMart and others have done with bogus blogs), is sniffed out quickly by an astute consumer base, and will do more harm than good. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case with ShopLocal, but this should always be remembered when trying to pull this off.

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