SanDisk, the No. 2 seller of digital music players in the U.S., has drastically stepped up its efforts to take on the iPod with a new Guerrilla marketing campaign. The company’s “iDon’t” campaign, launched over the weekend, consists mainly of an anti-iPod website, but also includes paid foot soldiers at university campuses. The “iDon’t” website’s main purpose is to promote SanDisk’s Sansa e200 music player by communicating to consumers that owning an iPod is unoriginal and that iPod users are followers.
“Calling all free thinkers, contrarians, and malcontents. The time has come to rise up against the iTatorship,” the site’s manifesto reads. “To resist the monotony of white earbuds and reject the oppressive forces of cultural conformity. Now is the time to break free from restrictive formats and a single source for music. Its time for choice, for freedom, for self expression—and for independent spirits to stand up and say ‘iDon’t’. You don’t need to follow. There is now an alternative.”
The “iDon’t” website proudly links to anti-iPod websites like Cyber Rodent, Anything But iPod, and iPod’s Dirty Secret. SanDisk is also selling T-shirts and offering free downloadable posters and desktop pictures featuring artwork such as iSheep, iChimp, iFollow, iHerd, iSchackle, iDroid, and iPuppet.
The SanDisk campaign is being handled by Grey Direct, which calls itself “a world-leading direct marketing agency with a focus on maximizing return on investment.” A news entry on the site by “Eric (a.k.a. Da Sheep Herder)” reads: “This site and the iDon’t campaign are the creation of several of us renegades behind the new Sansa player, from SanDisk. And this is our playful way of saying “Enough! Yeah, we’re just fed up with the ever-expanding flock of iSheep swarming through our cities. You’ve seen them. They’re everywhere. Every bus, train and city sidewalk is a mass of white headphones. Blindly they’ve bought into the hype without ever realizing there are other mp3 players out there.”
iLounge has received at least one report of an “iDon’t” representative approaching college students on campus offering free T-shirts. An iLounger reports that he was handed a black tee featuring an illustration of a chimp wearing Apple’s popular white earbuds (shown below). “So today, when I came out of my Monday morning lecture at university, putting my earphones on I notice this girl coming up to with a T-shirt,” he says. “At first I thought she was one of those annoying survey people, but I noticed there was more of them and then when I pulled my ear phone off she said ‘It’s iDont.com!’ staring at the T-Shirt realizing that there is an ape with white earphones. She gave it to me because I have black earphones.”
SanDisk’s director of consumer product marketing, Eric Bone, said in February that the company wants to be “a strong No. 2 in the MP3 space,” adding that “there are people who, no matter what, will buy an iPod. All I want is for people to think there is an alternative.” SanDisk, which began selling digital music players in November 2004, used its weight in the flash memory industry and strong presence at American retailers to sell one million players during this past year’s holiday quarter, putting it in a distant second place to Apple.