Venture Marketing

Creative Marketing Startup Success Story


Adapted from  Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff by Mark Hughes



Out-Of-the-Box Buzz Marketing Strategy
Produces Tremendous Results

"It is one of greatest publicity coups in history." ~ 'Time' magazine





Without Spending a Single Dime in Traditional Marketing

Moving forward with buzz marketing philosophy, catapulted to the Top Ten list as one of the most trafficked retail sites on the Internet in less than a year, with budgets one-tenth the size of their competitors.

The venturepreneurs from managed to grow their startup firm from zero to 8 million registered users in less than three years. They looked for an interesting way to launch their site and e-venture an amazing idea, something that would make people and the media talk about their site. They wished to use a buzzmarketing strategy.




At first they hired an ideation company that suggested the usual wild ideas, such as releasing a large balloon from Mount Rushmore... These were not really the kind of things that would make people talk about

After some time,'s team came up with a really interesting out-of-the-box idea. Find a place that has the word "half" in it, and convince them to temporarily change their name to A brief search in the US list of names of places brought out Halfway, Oregon (population 350).

In early December 1999, a representative of the marketing team paid a visit to Halfway, Oregon to ask Mayor Dick Crow if the town would consider changing its name to, Oregon. Although skeptical at first, Mayor Crow conducted in some preliminary discussions with and decided to direct the matter to the City Council for further consideration.

The council eventually agreed to change the name, and this is what happened:

On Wednesday, January 19th, NBC's Today Show was broadcast live from, Oregon, and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, corporate headquarters of, Inc. as the company launched its web site. Millions of viewers and Internet users throughout the country and the world experienced the proclamation of the World's First Dot Com City and the new person-to-person business model presented by It is a day the town will remember forever.

Before spending a single dime in traditional marketing, Half. com captured the attention of the media, and the Internet community. Time magazine called it "one of the greatest publicity coups" in history.

Twenty days after the launch, e-Bay called. Within six months was sold to eBay for US$ 300 million.