Greatest Easter Egg of all time
By Tony Johnson on Thursday, March 21, 2013
It’s almost Easter, when every year I’m reminded of what I think is one of the greatest awareness-raising stunts of all time.
An old agency colleague of mine first told me about ‘Easter Eggs’, those little extra pressies, gags or other unexpected items that programmers hide in software or websites. He suggested that they were included to amuse only those in the know, so tekkies could show off to their friends about what they’d managed to ‘hide’ in their latest project.
But then Google Maps came along.
It’s 2007 and I keep getting emails from friends telling me I should check out Google’s new mapping and navigation website because they’ve messed up. “Do this before Google remove it”, they laugh. Type in ‘London to New York’ and it suggests you swim the Atlantic. Hilarious. How could Google get it so wrong? So web users hit Google Maps in their millions to check it was true.
And before I know it I’m visiting Google Maps for my directions where before it was between Multimap or StreetMap (remember them?). For me, this is where the Easter Egg moved from being the guilty secret of the developer to a powerful tool in the armoury of the PR professional and a relatively low-cost way to drive initial traffic and awarenss of a site or activity.
The best PR stunts are often those which the audience don’t realise (at least at first) are stunts and this is an example I have referred to more often than I can remember. And I’ve been trying to come up with something better ever since!