When I say "website tie-in" I am not talking about a simple website that is built around the product or service, has a cool flash game, and other supplemental materials. I am talking about sites like residueisevil.com and klondikemancave.com. These sites are more like end points of an advertising scavenger hunt for sweet "unrated" and "not seen on tv" content.
You have no doubt seen the commercials that simply flash a graphic that says residue is evil .com while an ominous sounding voice says the phrase. That is it. That is the commercial. Now, I may be in the minority here, but not only do I not know what that commercial is for (I assume it is deodorant), I do not care. In fact, I refuse to go to residueisevil.com because I do not appreciate the assumption being made by whoever made this commercial. They assume that if they are coy and nondescript that I will be so overcome with curiosity that I will leave the couch and go to the computer to find out what residueisevil.com is.
Oh, it must be something extremely cool! How could it not be? I mean, they don't even tell us what it is!
These kinds of campaigns began with Nike (as many innovations in advertising seem to do) many years ago with shoe commercials featuring a female sprinter ( I think it was Marion Jones). The spot is a first-person camera view of some hapless fool who is trying to race Jones, and as the chase ensues, he has to avoid various obstacles that range from annoying (barking dog) to downright deadly (flying chainsaws). The spot is cut short before it ends and the viewer is encouraged to check out a website that contains several endings for the spot.
That was a cool idea. Now it has become a contrived "must-have" for every new campaign. Sometimes this tactic fits and I am not damning those executions that are well thought out. I am, however, calling out all those other campaigns that do it, well, just to do it. A clever idea is only truly clever if it is continuous with the brand and the overall idea/ message being conveyed.
I liken this trend of slapping fancy extras onto campaigns to car customization. When you see a nice mustang that has been customized well, it looks as if the car could have come off the lot in its present state (even though it did not). On the other hand, sometimes you see a car that looks like it was customized by a blind man, it is a Frankenstein's monster, spoilers and ground effects acting as the neck bolts and orthopedic shoes.
I encourage anyone who agrees with me to do their part and not visit these websites. Just remember, every time you do, you are just proving that you are a manipulable as they think you are.