Germans want to know: Who is this Chad Kroski?

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[Duesseldorf, Germany] A German cellphone spot featuring a fake book by mysterious American novelist and singer Chad Kroski has accidentally touched off one of Europe's biggest and oddest viral campaigns.

In the TV spot for T-Mobile by Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, that sent Mr. Kroski ricocheting across the Internet and the blogosphere, a young couple eye each other in a bar. Hoping to strike up a conversation, Anna notices Steve is carrying a book by Chad Kroski and disappears into the bathroom to do a Google search on her cellphone. The spot ends with the couple chatting to a voice-over that says "T-Mobile Web'n'Walk-always a step ahead."

The campaign was created to introduce the Web'n'Walk feature, allowing content to be transferred from PCs to cellphones through a deal T-Mobile signed with Google to provide users with access to 8 billion Web sites for worldwide searches.

But viewers who have seen or heard about the spot appear much more intrigued by the elusive Chad Kroski and are searching for him online. A Google search last week turned up 119,000 entries and 321,000 on Yahoo. EBay's German site has offered what it purports to be Mr. Kroski's typewriter and Mrs. Kroski's wedding gown for sale. T-Mobile's lawyers are going after a Chad Kroski porn site.

In fact, Mr. Kroski was invented by Ajab Singh and Thomas Kanofsky, creative directors at Saatchi's Frankfurt office.

"The strategy was to attract a younger target group. The commercial is working very well," said Michael Samak, managing director, Saatchi & Saatchi.

The spot has run in Germany and Austria since July, and a delighted T-Mobile said it is thinking about trying it in other markets.

In the flurry of online offerings, the only official one is the Web site, created by T-Mobile and Saatchi & Saatchi. The home page shows a crowded desk with a cup of coffee, a picture of Anna, Chad Kroski's signature, and a T-Mobile cellphone. The page links to the official biography of Chad Kroski (born in Kentucky, likes tuna, married Gretchen in 2002), to Google news and to Web'n'Walk, including a T-Mobile shop.

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile is battling rival Vodafone for market share. While T-Mobile plans its next step, bloggers continue to dissect Mr. Kroski's life. One worries that Mr. Kroski is a bestselling author but has no books on Amazon. Another speculates that he's about 88 "and not necessarily involved in the German marketing scene" but might want to sue Deutsche Telekom and get some money to secure his future.

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