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Archive for June 25, 2009

23andMe not-a-BLIMP! (apparently it’s a Zeppelin)

23andMe Blimp! Just look at it!

23andMe Not-a-Blimp! Just look at it! (not my pic)

So on my way to work today, driving across from 880 to Westbound 80, avoiding the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I saw a pair of chromosomes from my onramp in oakland that I knew immediately belonged to the 23andMe logo. Nevertheless, these were on a not-a-blimp! I tried to take a snapshot on my phone, but sadly, resolution wasn’t so great andĀ  the not-a-blimp was out of my driving trajectory, but a quick search online and lo and behold, there definitely is a 23andMe not-a-blimp!

Talk about aggressive marketing! This is taking the DTC part of personal genomics waaayyyy beyond what I had expected. Sure, trendy spit parties at fashion week that make the Times is one thing, but a not-a-blimp to harass SF commuters? C’mon. Personal genomics is not something that can be sold as a simple commodity. The procedures, risks, and implications of it can be serious, and by advertising the service as though it was a movie or typical commercial product is tricking those that are less genetically literate (unfamiliar in complex genetics) into thinking that this is justĀ  for fun.

According to Alex Hall, CEO of Airship Ventures, via ChubbyBrain

While blimps can also do advertising, the Zeppelin is 50ft larger than any of them and can provide unique promotional opportunities…

I can only speculate how much this costs in advertising. Sure, the previous contract was with Disney-Pixar promoting UP, very appropriate, especially in the Bay Area. But personal genomics?

http://www.airshipventures.com/tours-promos.php

Airship Ventures even has a time-lapse Youtube video they just posted of the application of the 23andMe logo that was uploaded yesterday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mho_x9Z1Na8

UPDATE:

After a bit more digging, and not to be offensive, there’s something strangely incestuous about the relationship between Google, 23andMe (which you already knew), and this Airship Ventures company. A relationship that involves founders, mothers, board members (i.e. 23andMe cofounder’ s mother, back in october of last year, writes a travelogue promoting Airship Ventures (links below). Airship Ventures’ major investor is 23andMe’s first listed board member, which for once, isn’t all that surprising… So that’s where this is coming from..

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/esther-wojcicki/the-return-of-the-zeppeli_b_138961.html

via:

http://valleywag.gawker.com/5071678/google-founders-journalist-mother+in+law-writes-blimp-infomercial

Update:

Apparently the difference between a Zeppelin and a Blimp is whether or not there is a rigid, internal structure. The former, which is the case mentioned here, is rigid, wherease a blimp is, well.. floppy ( that word’s for you, Beth).

YETANOTHERUPDATE:

you can track the zeppelin!!! in case you actively wanted to be visually spammed by the zeppelin….

http://www.airshipventures.com/tracking.php

via 23andme’s facebook page: which is.. having a contest for best picture of the zeppelin to get fifty-buck discounts? really, whatchu gonna do 23andme when its some 15 year old kid that wins the contest? oh yeah, they don’t have restrictions on age, despite established NSGC positions about childhood testing

Prenatal and childhood testing for adult-onset genetic conditions should always include genetic education and counseling. Genetic counseling for clients considering such testing should include exploration of the psychological/social risks and benefits of early genetic identification from both the parents’ and child’s perspectives. When possible the child should be involved in the decision about whether or not to be tested. Other issues discussed should include the possibility of discrimination in insurance, education and employment for the child or family in both the immediate and more distant future.

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