Sarah Schacht

Sarah Schacht

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This Ameri KIN Life

July 3, 2010 , , , , ,

I arrived at a Starbucks in Seattle, but had missed my bus and (as a result) missed my blind date. As I peered over the rooftop deck of the Starbucks, I saw a camera crew peering up at me. In a few minutes, found myself being interviewed by a BBC reality TV show about being on a date on their TV show. The show, called Perfect Partner, selected me and one other girl to go out on a date with a guy. The events of the date were excruciating; the guy was short and boring, but every hour, I was pulled aside by producers and coached to gush about him. He chose the other girl, a divorced 27 year old who worked at 7-11, over me. I got the pleasure of watching my rejection months later with my coworkers on a presidential campaign in New Hampshire. We all got a taste of what rejection in front of millions felt like, which was good practice for the Dean campaign.

In the months in between the date and Dean, I went on spring break to Whistler, BC, and ended up on Wild On E! (think girls dancing in a club, video cameras panning in). When walking to a coffee shop near UW, I was stopped on the street by Bill Nye the Science Guy—he interviewed me about “Why do humans have sex?” for a new show called, “Nye the Spy.” It seemed like wherever I went, a reality show was going to find me and draw me in. And it wasn’t just about me, it was about my relationships–a date, a night out with friends, and even about sex (what the hell, Bill Nye?!?). They were all being impacted by the motivations of those behind the camera.

So, when Facebook started serving me up ads about Rosa, a 20-something Microsoft was going to send around the country to see her friends and “friends,” I got a little hooked.

Rosa was clearly put on a huge national campaign, but so were her relationships, and her life was suddenly tied to the short-lived marketing campaign of the Microsoft KIN. For weeks, her travel videos were heavily promoted on social networking sites and the web. Here she was, meeting all sorts of “friends” and seemed to be having a series meaningful and fun reconnections. But just as quickly as they were pushed, they were suddenly gone. —Without her story being fully told. Something seemed wrong; Microsoft had switched to generic Rosas in TV ads, videos on KIN’s Facebook site that were “how to use the KIN” guides. Where did Rosa go? Clearly, from clips, she’d traveled to more places, seen more friends, than the video segments showed.

It seemed strange, and just as I poked around the web for her remaining videos, word spread in Seattle that the KIN was dead, pulled off the market by Microsoft. Which led me to wonder, where was Rosa’s trip, and her relationships in all of this?

With hundreds of thousands of views of her first few videos, it was kind of shocking to see this oddly cut together video, buried on You Tube, titled “Rosa’s Finale.” (Slightly creepy title, Microsoft marketing team.)

It only had 2,338 views.

So now, I’m strangely fascinated by what KIN’s marketing campaign did to the life of one stranger. The trips seem like a great opportunity, but the awkward departure seems to say that something happened beyond the market failure of a cell phone brand.

So, I don’t really care what happened to the KIN, I’m just interested in how Rosa came out of the experience of having her relationships at the center of a marketing campaign.

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