...or; Effective brand integration or creative suicide?

Illustration of Dilbert and Alice using the DilbertFiles file sharing service.

In what's likely the least covert product placements in, well, the history of life, the universe and everything, Scott Adams have during the last three strips had Dilbert secure venture capitol and launch a web service. The twist being that the service actually is launching outside the comic. I took the bait1 and dutifully directed my browser to DilbertFiles.

A single frame from a Dilbert strip. Where DilbertFiles.com first is mentiioned.From a technical angle there's little that, at least on a basic level, separates DilbertFiles from the many already established file hosting and sharing services. Basically it's just a re-branded version of SendYourFiles, with Dogbert whipping the progress bar and the opportunity to read comics while files are transferred. Interestingly the re-branded version offers better value for money than the parent offering, with all service levels having many times the storage and bandwidth. Compared to their competitors, the service is designed and marketed more as an email related utility (than being a general service for sharing large files). The service also seems somewhat more targeted towards professionals and business users than most of its competitors, something that makes it a nice pairing for Dilbert.

Here's (parts of) what Adams wrote when he announced the service in November '08.

First, some background. I often used a service called sendyourfiles.com to move my own large art files to United Media (my syndicator), to my publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing), and other business associates. I also used the service to send large photos and videos that e-mail couldn't handle. Every person who received a large file from me in this convenient way said some version of "Hey, I could use this myself."

So I contacted the owners of sendyourfiles.com and worked out a deal for a branded version of their service that we call dilbertfiles.com. They do the business end, and I help spread the word. It's a great tool, so I enjoy letting people know about it.

Although I'm not about to sign up for the service myself (I already have file-sharing functionality comparable to this through FastMail.FM), if you regularly need to send large files to your contacts, Dilbertfiles may actually be a useful service worth paying for. Admittedly it isn't the service in itself, but rather how the comic and the service will work together I find the most interesting.

  1. Writing that i took the bait may be a slightly understating the facts. Considering that I not only had to visit Dilbertfiles.com but also ended up blogging about it, continuing to use fishing terminology, you may actually say I fell hook, line and sinker2 for Adams' plans. (locate)
  2. Then again I didn't actually sign up for the service, so to say i fell hook, line and sinker for it may be exaggerating the facts a bit. (locate)


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