It's a measure of our fascination with pop culture that on a day when Reuters is breaking a story about a new flash chip-making plant to be built by Toshiba and SanDisk
Despite a name that hurts my ears (and brings to mind -- shudder -- the corpulent, recently released jailbird Li'l Kim), the visuals for this SanDisk campaign are pretty interesting and gritty, and a bit of promotion for this campaign in the biz world might be a decent idea. The Li'l Monsta campaign is actually the second version of a low-key, Internet-based marketing plan that began a few weeks back on the idont.com website.
That site was designed to take a poke at Apple's
The original iteration was, to my mind, smarter and more to-the-point, with paint-drip and Warhol-esque graphic illustrations of iSheep, iDonkeys, and iChimps, and naughty but not-so-funny comics called "Flocking Hell," featuring a pair of iSheep named "Fluff" and "Dingleberry."
It was clever(ish), humorous (sometimes), irreverent, and refreshingly self-aware; the site featured navigation links with names like "manifesto" and "propaganda." I'm not sure the next version, at lilmonsta.com, is any of those.
Will any of these online potshots pay off for shareholders? That depends on your definition of "pay off."
Legions of current and future iSheep will look to Cupertino for lifestyle instructions from Messrs. Jobs and Bono, and they'll keep buying their iPods. But SanDisk's players do offer features Apple doesn't. The Sansa models include expandable memory, playback of the WMA and AVI video formats, subscription-service support, and the ability to play nice with multiple (non-iTunes) online music stores.
These gadgets are often cheaper, too, because SanDisk produces the raw flash memory that comprises much of these players' cost. Shareholders shouldn't expect the Sansa players to take much of a bite out of Apple, but they at least seem to be faring better than some of those flops from Dell
On the other hand, I expected SanDisk to fail miserably in this space, to be crushed not only by Apple but also Creative
Still, the space will only become more crowded, as dozens of Asian companies come up with interesting designs -- there's a new one of those about 12 times a day.
It's more important, to my mind, that SanDisk's players make a decent little batch of money for the company while simultaneously helping to establish its brand. Ultimately, as flash memory becomes more widely produced, a strong brand should help insulate SanDisk's flash-based product line from the woes of commoditization. That's something Micron
I just hope that youth-oriented campaigns designed by button-down PR nerdlingers, and featuring ill-used or already-out-of-style phrases like "peeps," "posse," and "that's just how he rolls," don't switch off more minds than they switch on.
Seth Jayson gives this campaign a 6.5 out of 10. At the time of publication, he had shares of SanDisk but no positions in any other company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.