fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

WSJ: viral marketing victim?

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That the Wall Street Journal printed a tidbit on fishing shouldn’t be too astonishing, the WSJ abandoned the high ground to add sports coverage about two years ago, but yesterday’s edition included an anomalous “factoid” that smells suspiciously like viral marketing in print.

Bottom center of page D8 in the May 13, 2010 WSJ appears, what, at first glance, appears to be simple filler.

600
Number of different fish species caught by Patrick Sebile after he landed a Vermillion Rockfish. A news release said the number puts Mr. Sebile ‘in a class by himself as an angler.’ “

Look closer.

Sure, landing 600 different species of fish is impressive, but without telling the reader, this little scrap implies that there’s something notable about landing a Vermillion Rockfish; notable enough to start the fish species countdown. Vermillion Rockfish (Sebastes miniatus) is a member of the family Scorpaenidae (rockfishes with strong head spines, aka Scorpionfishes) and is widely distributed from the San Benito Islands, Baja California, to Vancouver Island, Canada. Nothing remarkable.

The WSJ then quotes the news release as to Mr. Sebile’s unique standing in the world of anglers. Again, 600 different species is remarkable, but considering it all started with a rockfish, a family that includes an estimated 102 species, Mr. Sebile could have picked up one sixth of his total just off the coast. We’ll still give him credit on the 600-species claim as, apparently, there’s no documented case of any angler landing as many species.

Finally, the WSJ credits the source: Patrick Sebile. He’s his own PR team. And the founder and lure designer of his namesake tackle company, SEBILE Innovative Fishing. That’s the viral part. Well played Mr. Sebile.

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