The Internet Wins Again! Writer Gets Rapper Pitbull 'Exiled' To Alaskan Walmart

from the because-what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept

Ah, the internet. Also: ah, social media. Powerful tools, which in the right hands, can turn unknowns into legends and overstepping entities into Wikipedia entries. However, in the fumbling hands of mega-corporations, these same tools become about as unwieldy as a screwdriver being used to hammer in nails. By a bear.

When these tools are put to “use” in amateurish ways, there’s always the chance that they will be re-purposed for the amusement of internet natives, who know exactly how to turn these primitive tools into weapons of mass destruction/hilarity. Anyone remember Time Magazines’ ill-fated effort to crowdsource the Most Influential in the World? Long story short: thanks to a combination of Time Mag’s incompetence and No One’s Personal Army suddenly cohering into one man’s personal army, 4chan’s moot ended up topping the list of names.

David Thorpe, writer for the Boston Phoenix and… wait for it… SomethingAwful, saw an opportunity too big to pass up when Wal-Mart announced (in conjunction with something called “Sheets Energy Strips”) its plan to have Miami rapper Pitbull make a personal appearance at whichever Wal-Mart store could hoover up the most “Likes.” Thorpe immediately mobilized his troops, (possibly with the help of Pitbull’s Energy Strips) including other SomethingAwful contributors, in order to send the man of the hour to the most remote Walmart location in the US.’

Enter Boston Phoenix writer David Thorpe, a man so put off by celebrity marketing stunts that he rallied Web troops to“Help us help Wal-Mart exile Pitbull to Alaska.”
“As of now, the Kodiak Walmart has over 22,000 new ‘likes’ on Facebook, putting it far ahead of any other Walmart in the nation – far ahead of Kodiak’s actual population, in fact,” Thorpe wrote.

By Pitbull’s deadline, more than 70,000 users had liked the store, located on a southern isle of the Frontier State with a population of about 6,200.

To his credit, Pitbull has taken this all in stride, including tweeting about purchasing bear repellent and putting together a video explaining how he would “go anywhere for his fans.” To top it all off, he invited Thorpe along for the promotional visit.

At this point, it looks as if Thorpe will have to pay his own way, but he intends on making the trip.

In an email to The Associated Press, Thorpe said it’s “very likely” he’ll be in Kodiak. Thorpe said he had to “raise the funds to get to Kodiak on my own, since Pitbull’s invitation doesn’t include actually getting me there.”

Thorpe said he doesn’t really have anything against Pitbull, and instead saw this as a way “to disrupt a corporate social media campaign, since they really set themselves up for it.”

Thorpe’s only regret seems to be that Walmart will somehow spin his prank into a social media “win” for the company, something he deems to be “gross.” And in a way, it is a win for Wal-Mart, albeit one it scored without lifting a finger. Thousands saw its Facebook pages and thousands more are watching Pitbull’s promo spot. And now both Pitbull and Thorpe are off to a destination best known for being way the hell away from anything else… and being home to Walmart store #2711.

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Companies: walmart

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Comments on “The Internet Wins Again! Writer Gets Rapper Pitbull 'Exiled' To Alaskan Walmart”

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43 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

This story is perhaps the best indication why online petitions cannot be taken seriously, because they are too easily corrupted to other ends.

So when someone shows up with a 90,000 name internet petition, I can only think of a couple of 4chan children running a script against a phone book and a TOR connection to deliver “signatures”.

Just remember this story the next time an online petition drive comes up.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’ve signed plenty of online petitions and even the ones at whitehouse.gov don’t have any personally identifiable information on me. I use other people’s names and addresses because I get plenty of junkmail and political robocalls already.

Also, nobody checks them.

Ever.

They don’t care enough to bother. Who would? Ninety-thousand signatures is too small to pay attention to even if every single one were valid. There are a quarter of a billion Internet users in the US and there are no communication limitations between people like there were a few decades ago. Information spreads damned fast. Ninty-thousand is saying that 0.03% of the affected population gave enough of a damn to click away from lolcats long enough to sign a petition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Then I guess the reddit one against sopa was better then the White House one. It required my address and phone. And there IS part of the way to check the validity of it, thats what petitions are for. I’m sick of people saying they don’t count just because your using the internet.

Because thats what these discussions always end up saying. Its on the internet, so its not valid. Well fuck off the internet then. They’re just as valid as digital voting would be.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I didn’t say there wasn’t a way to check them, just that nobody ever does. It costs money to verify digital petitions. A lot more than it does to verify that most of the signatures on a page were written by different people or at least a competent forger. So, yeah, they’re never checked. Which makes them just as relevant as a petition generated by a perl script scraping a phone book.

Digital voting? I’ve seen government systems security. It’s a joke. To be fair though, it’s not really any worse than the near complete lack of verification for physical balloting. It would just be a lot quicker and cheaper to do on the Internet.

Think about it. How many votes could one of the smaller botnets submit if they had a list of registered voters (extremely insecure btw) for eight or ten major cities? Yeah, essentially all of them, and before the actual voters even had their first cup of coffee down. Yes, e-voting is entirely unworkable at the moment.

If you were talking simple digital voting machines? You haven’t worked with enough computerized devices to be taken seriously. They are computers so they DO have bugs. They also WILL fail at the worst possible time. And they are not up to even ATM level of security.

It truly amazes me that a lot of the same people who say DRM is unworkable because it will always be cracked will jump right on the computerized voting bandwagon. Me, I’m a paranoid as hell security guy and know that neither will ever work and the consequences for a cracked game are nothing compared to a cracked election. Then again: Ave! Bossa nova, similis bossa seneca!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

” It required my address and phone”

Shocking, they have these things called phone books that have names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Sorry, but a petition that doesn’t have your actual signature on it isn’t any better than political parties or anti-whatever groups signing up Donald Duck and dead people. It’s dishonest from the word go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How did you miss the entire point? Using the internet, Thorpe got 70,000 people interested and working together for something they would otherwise not have cared or known about. True it was just to tweak a corporate nose, but still they cared about it. Next time you see a 90,000 signature petition on the internet, you should think about how that many people were informed and cared about something enough to sign-it. That is an amazing thing; because, there were probably 89,000 people on that petition would never have known enough to care without the internet.

The bottom line is that networking potential of the internet is probably the singularly most powerful force in the world, and it’s only going to get stronger. Laugh all you want at the online petitions, but you are just labeling yourself as out of touch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Actually, Greece used a fairly effective form of democracy that was, by all accounts, technically incorruptable. The real big deal though, was just that; it was a huge catch. It was essentially a lottery. Everyone gets to be senator, and if you don’t want to, tough shit.

Only way out of it was to go before the court and present your case for why; usually, people who were rich had to, but if you gave your lands and deeds to someone else, I think you were no longer obligated to do so. It led to shenanigans and loopholes, but mostly, it was a true democracy.

That being said, though, while it sounds great, the reality of it ended up being a good deal worse. You may not haveb een able to bribe someone, but assassination sure was a fine way to deal with political opponents. So in that sense, ‘true democracy’ isn’t entirely infallible or even unobtainable; no one has really gotten there. Lots have tried, Greece coming the closest.

Still, politicans these days seem more fascinated with fascism, since it lets them push through shitty bills the public can’t see. I’d rather have a broken democracy than a working fascist regime. But that’s just my two cents.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The threat from DHMO is real – LOL

Dihydrogen monoxide is called “hydroxyl acid”,
the substance is the major component of acid rain.
contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.
may cause severe burns.
is fatal if inhaled.
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:

as an industrial solvent and coolant.
in nuclear power plants.
in the production of Styrofoam.
as a fire retardant.
in many forms of cruel animal research.
in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.

Anonymous Coward says:

If he didn’t want Walmart to spin it into a win, why did he do anything in the first place? He should know damn well by now that no publicity is worse than bad publicity. Besides, of course they can spin this to Pitball and Walmart caring about all their customers regardless of how remote they are. Thorpe really is pretty boneheaded to not have seen this, but I guess he was too caught up in “the lulz” to have any form of common sense.

Violated (profile) says:

All Win

I am sure most people simply did it for a laugh to exile Pitbull to the most remote Walmart location known. It is good to see that Pitbull laughs at this also.

This is a win situation for everyone. 70k+ people had a laugh, Pitbull gets a nice trip even if cold & remote, he becomes more famous, the locals will enjoy the visit, the store gets huge publicity, then Walmart has just had a very successful campaign to advertise their services.

Call me Al says:

Kudos to Pitbull and Walmart for just rolling with it rather than protesting. They come out of it pretty well. Really its only Thorpe who comes out of it badly, not for the idea itself but for his petulent reaction when they successfully dealt with his sabotage.

As Violated said above: “This is a win situation for everyone. 70k+ people had a laugh, Pitbull gets a nice trip even if cold & remote, he becomes more famous, the locals will enjoy the visit, the store gets huge publicity, then Walmart has just had a very successful campaign to advertise their services.”

I’d go so far as to say that this is what we should really want out of these stunts; for everyone to have a good time.

Having said that, when the net Rickrolled the New York Mets it was a thing of beauty.

Russ (profile) says:

Re: Obscurity

Think about it, would 98% of the readers even know of the contest if this hadn’t been the result? I am sure that the media will pick up on this as well, wouldn’t be surprised to see this on leno or letterman (or is this more a
Conan thing?).

By rolling with it, Walmart and Pitbull both get a LOT more press than if it were just a run of the mill contest

DUMBASS POLITICIANS says:

@20 again

oh and imagine when a person puts forth a bill and enough people second it , that the whole nation just electronically votes on all the bills at say the end of a week.

no more bribed politicians
no more politicians required

interesting concept that scares corporations and all the lazy politicians that take bribes….

Starbuck (profile) says:

Pitbull's Exile

There are people in Alaska who would disagree that a trip to Kodiak amounts to exile. There are also people from all over the lower 48 who pay big bucks to travel to Alaska and check it out. For most of them, it’s the trip of a lifetime. Left to his own devices, it might never have occurred to Pitbull to travel up here, but he’ll see some world class wilderness beauty, meet some neat people, and thrill Kodiak’s rap fans – however few or many of them there are. And Walmart probably gets some good karma out of the deal, which they definitely can use. I think the whole thing is a hoot.

Shon Gale (profile) says:

I even logged in for this one.

David Thorpe saw that as an opportunity! What an ahole. I’ll remember his name forever and never read his writing or participate in his bullshit.
David Thorpe reminds me of a Mafia Thug with a little power and all he does is kick and beat on somebody. A Bully. Later with this turkey. That stupid paper ?(literally a rag) will never get my perusal either.

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