Building the Celebrity Cult: Personality-Centric Search Engines

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Building the Celebrity Cult: Personality-Centric Search Engines

What do pop singer Kevin Federline and a Yahoo-powered search engine have in common? Nothing except a fascinating collusion of celebrity branding with Internet search. I’m referring of course, to SearchWithKevin.com a Yahoo-powered search engine that allows you to win prizes such as a Kevin Federline T-shirt or Autograph CD, whenever you search the web.

Kevin Federline

We’ve already seen other search-to-win engines like Blingo and Winzy but this is this first time I’ve seen a search engine that is built around the promotion of a single personality.

Egoistic? Definitely. Profitable? Maybe. Celebrities with a large fan base will probably see a lot of active, consistent and long-term search engine action. Prodege is the company behind SearchWithKevin.com and apparently they specialize in promoting celebrities through search engines and other buzz marketing campaigns.

By customizing and incentivizing the search process, musicians, record labels, brands, non-profit organizations and lifestyle companies have a new opportunity to connect with fans, while fans have a new and exciting way to find information on the web.

Very interesting indeed. Clicking through to their blog will lead you to personal messages from Kevin Federline as well as information, event updates and promotional contests for Prodege’s other celebrities, which incidentally have their own search engines as well. Some of these celebrities include Andrew Dice Clay and Wynonna Judd.

Each of these celebrity customized search engines act as a branding strategy that seeks to dominate the internet surfing habits of current and potential fans. By offering constantly updated freebies, these customized search engines attract casual internet surfers, promotes the celebrity brand while passively interacting with fans on a daily basis through search-based giveaways and contests.

It also helps that the search engine results page is just one click away from the celebrity’s search engine homepage, which is prominently linked to their bio, message board as well as online store.

Visual attention is directed towards prominent images of each celebrity and users are even given the option of downloading a browser toolbar or search extension so they can surf the web while they are at other websites. These tools are magnets which bring a casual web surfer “home” to each celebrity’s branded search homepage and interface.

While the site designs for the search engines were a little tacky, the concept of building communities around internet search can be fairly powerful, especially when the personality in question enjoys widespread popularity.

I’m not going to make any bets, but we’ll probably see more of these personality-centric search engine communities in the near future.

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