Howling and Gaming the System
According to the Washington Post, the above featured T-shirt became an overnight success recently, based on its perceived popularity.
Something strange happened this week in Amazon.com’s apparel section.
For a day or two, a black T-shirt featuring an image of three wolves baying at a full moon claimed the top slot at the online store’s clothing bestseller list,, beating out the usual, unremarkable mix of Levi’s 505 regular-fit jeans, Crocs clogs and Adidas running shoes.
And really, why wouldn’t you buy the shirt, which is priced from $7.65 to $17.93, depending on your size? Just read the long and growing list of customer testimonials promising earth-shattering experiences or psychedelic vision quests upon purchase.
“I bought this shirt and instantly old girlfriends started calling me again,” wrote one reviewer.
“My doctor says the cancer has gone into remission,” wrote another. “Thanks for changing my life!”
As retailers, media companies and even government agencies attempt to get with the times and connect with an online audience, every once in a while they get a reminder: Anybody, or any group, armed with a Web browser can anonymously game the system and manipulate the marketplace at sites inviting user feedback — for profit or just for fun.
Hence the sudden and unexpected popularity of an old and not quite “in” T-shirt.
The shirt’s page at Amazon.com had quietly existed for years without much comment, but after a snarky link from CollegeHumor.com, the “Three Wolf Moon” shirt suddenly sprouted hundreds of five-star ratings. Reviewers have dreamed up epics about its powers, weaving fantasies involving everything from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the pop group Duran Duran.
As the joke caught on and got passed around the Web, Photoshopped spoofs of the shirt started appearing online — featuring corgi puppies, spiders or haddock instead of the now-famous wolves.
Check out the shirts and the 5 star reviews on Amazon.com,
Perception is reality. Does this remind anyone of anything else that might have happened locally?
Have howling good weekend!