Imagine that you and a friend are in a crowded Manhattan nightclub and have managed to secure a seat at the bar. There is a party of people at your back waiting to place their orders with the bartender. A young woman emerges from the group and leans up against you. She is attractive, well dressed, and hands you $10-very friendly. “Could you order me a shot of vodka and a bottle of Brand X?”
“Vodka and Brand X?” you ask, “What’s Brand X?”
“Oh!” she replies nonchalantly, “It’s an herb-laced energy drink. I mix it with my vodka. It keeps me hydrated so I don’t wake up with such a hangover. It’s really yummy too.”
You pass the drinks and notice her friends-a lively group looking hip, happy and . . . hydrated, all holding bottles of Brand X, which they repeatedly mix with vodka. Throughout the night, you have continued exchanges with the group, and by last call, you are completely unaware of the fact that each member of the party has managed to communicate very subtly to you why he or she prefers Brand X to any other.
The next morning, you wake up with a terrible headache. Over a queasy hangover-helper brunch with friends, Brand X is understandably on your mind, and you mention the woman you met last night and why she drinks it. And your friends mention it to their friends, who mention it to their friends. . . . Mission accomplished. Little do you know that you were the target of an invisible form of marketing, courtesy of Big Fat, Inc.