Tuesday 13 October 2009

The Carter-Ruck school of viral marketing

How to ensure maximum publicity for your new gagging order

Marketing experts were stunned today at the success of media law firm Carter-Ruck's high profile 'gagging order' campaign, designed to generate buzz around their client Trafigura's latest toxic waste product.

Brand awareness for the British oil company, described as 'absurdly evil' by insiders, rocketed after a cryptic viral 'seed' appeared in yesterday's The Guardian. The mysterious message simply read:

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

Within nanoseconds, bloggers, Twitterers and possibly even Bebo users were speculating on the exciting true identity of the shadowy litigator responsible for the gag. Less than a minute later, 187,000 Twitter users simultaneously discovered that oil giant Trafigura was the subject of a Parliamentary question and flooded the interwebs with 'Gotcha!' messages.

Public awareness of the brand name 'Trafigura' leaped by around 700%, up from 0.1% market penetration the day before. A spokesman said: 'This is a great result. Nobody had heard of us or our toxic waste dumping practices until Carter-Ruck got involved. This kind of publicity is priceless!'

An industry analyst said: 'It's been a clever job, making great use of viral and self-facilitating media nodes. Brands are starting to realise that to really make a splash you need to go the extra mile, do something big and zany - Carter-Ruck's strategy of assaulting British democracy and raping the very concept of free speech delivered an incredible awareness boost.

However, they couldn't have done it without the Guardian. I think this demonstrates the growing importance of tightly integrated cross-platform actionplanned thoughtleader bacterial germination multi-maven campaigns.'

The campaign ended at 13:08 today, but it is hoped that awareness of Trafigura's toxic waste products will endure. 'It was a shock-and-awe approach', said a man, 'but we're hoping that doesn't necessarily mean a short-tail. Hopefully people will still recognise the name Trafigura and remember Carter-Ruck in the run up to Christmas.'

See also: Chicken Yoghurt and The Graun: Probo Koala
And from Layscience: Trafigura: A Carter-Ruck Fuck-Up


  1. Brilliant Topical humor. Well done. I hope you manage to evade Satan's Cock Suckers (shortened to Carter Ruck) on their quest to punish someone.

  2. Well done to the Guardian on being able to report on Trafigura issue raised in parliament.38 Degrees are currently running a campaign on this. Take action now by emailing your MP and asking them to not let this happen again. Take action now, it only takes 2 mins. Go to:


  3. Not bebo users you say?


  4. Very funny. I also heard a rumour that an Orkut user may have even heard about it.

  5. These people are ruthless bullies. Using bullyboy tactics to gag those trying to get the truth out, on behalf of their high paying clients who get make their fortune by suing all and sundry.

    Carter Ruck, or are as known to us Sue, Grabbit and runn.

    Please sign the petition below