Vanilla and her crew aren’t people at all. They’re the names of four perfume sprays, targeted to teens, created under the Secret brand by Proctor & Gamble. Secret Sparkle Body Spray products shipped in February, the blog launched in May, and already the colognes have 0.8 percent of the $10.4-billion global antiperspirant/deodorant market. The site, which has received 12,000 hits per week, combines teen “passion points,” as Michelle Vaeth of Proctor & Gamble calls them, which entertain visitors while subtly pushing the product.
The deceptively juvenile sparklebodyspray.com is more sophisticated than one might think—it embodies the next generation of internet marketing. On their way out are ads that alienated web surfers—the intrusive pop-up, the mass email known as spam—and made them all but blind and deaf to the message.