for 24 September 1996. Updated every TUESDAY.

BIG IDEA The Humane Society meets Where's
Waldo on the back of milk cartons -
convienently chilled with a Lotto
twist... on the Web!
25 WORDS <= Lassie need never leave home again
with Milkbone.com... reuniting
Fluffy with the kids and wealth
with the masses has never been
easier, or more fun!
HARD SELL Whether they strike one as adorable
or detestable, the thousands of grainy
pictures of Rover and Meowser littering
home pages across the Web are the writing
on the wall for the somnolent pet care
industry. While people may forego erratic
human companionship for a hardy leased
line, a cat is likely to remain parked
on mousers' lonely laps... until disaster
strikes, and Cupcake disappears. A basic
truth, known for centuries to erudite
and forward-thinking extortionists, is that
people will pay not only for the security
of their loved ones, but also for the
dream of being reunited to those thought
lost. Milkbone not only takes this local -
yet widespread - industry from the domain
of telephone poles, it turns it into a
compassionate, community-minded, but,
above all, lucrative recreational
The Milkbone pet database is more than a
collection of SPCA stats, microchip
tracking charts, and the CatFancy mailing
list, it's a dynamic registration system
for any wired pet owner. For a nominal
service fee, concerned "parents" can build
an extensive multimedia profile of their
little darlings, as comprehensive as any
law enforcement dossier. The value-add
arrives with region-specific Milkbone
mailing list, which sends up-to-the-minute
alerts on AWOL critters, with rewards
adjusted in relation to registration
revenue, much like state lotteries. As the
service grows in popularity and publicity,
opportunities for pre-planned, coordinated
dog and cat chases present themselves -
events where an infected pet is released
on a pre-scheduled date and hunted down
by gaming enthusiasts, who must work
swiftly to track the pet before the disease
takes the poor animal's life. Celebrity
endorsements (The Shaggy D.A., Babe,
and Spuds MacKenzie are clear favorites)
should be coupled with jackpot winners
for irresistable human-interest-story
OVERHEAD The start-up costs, which would include
hardware purchases and database
construction, will likely be less
daunting than publicity expenditures,
which will be crucial to mass adoption.
Leveraging the pet registration database
off an existing brand - such as Milkbone -
can reduce the necessity to rely on
traditional tools to raise consumer
awareness, such as advertising, while
the opportunity for cross-promotions
should enhance both the online and retail
products. Amortizing start-up costs
through sponsored webcast euthanizations
might be a possibility, although this
could provoke negative reactions from
radical "humanitarian" groups. This,
combined with the possibility that
opportunists might manufacture hostage
scenarios to capitalize on rewards,
suggest that in-house PR specialists
should be seriously considered.

courtesy of
The Duke of URL