The NY Times has an article about a new wave of independent films and their marketing.

When “The Age of Stupid,” a climate change movie, “opens” across the United States in September, it will play on some 400 screens in a one-night event, with a video performance by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, all paid for by the filmmakers themselves and their backers. In Britain, meanwhile, the film has been showing via an Internet service that lets anyone pay to license a copy, set up a screening and keep the profit.

The article is about the variety of roll-your-own distribution and marketing campaigns employed by filmmakers who lack studio backing.  But the lede is buried:

Famous fans like Courtney Love were soon chattering online about the film. And an army of “virtual street teamers” — Internet advocates who flood social networks with admiring comments, sometimes for a fee, sometimes not — were recruited by a Web consultant, Sarah Lewitinn, who usually works the music scene.

Here is wikipedia on street teams.  The origin is traced back to the KISS army, a grass-roots fan club that aggressively promoted the band KISS and later “vertically integrated” with the KISS marketing machine where they had access to exclusive promotional merchandise.

Today you can hire a consultant to assemble a street team to promote your band, movie, (hmmm… blog?), … A good consultant will find (or make) fans with a selected personality type, street-cred, and social network and organize them into a guerilla marketing squad armed with swag.

Virtual street teams operate in online social networks.  Presumably then, actual people are no longer required.  A good consultant can manufacture online identities, position them in a social network, getting Twitter followers and Facebook friends and cultivate the marketing opportunities from there.  You can imagine the pitch:  “We can mobilize 10,000 follower-tweets per day…”

Here is the web site of ForTheWin.com, the agency of Sara Lewitinn who coordinated the virtual street team for the film Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

For The Win! is an cooperative of club urchins and nightlife denizens charged with the task of defending the best of pop culture from the daily onslaught of the whack. At night we comb the streets in search of the best fashion, art, music, and movies New York City has to offer. By day we make sure we spread the word to the world by any and all means necessary of the internet to it’s biggest platforms without skipping a step or taking anything for granted. Each of our campaigns is as unique as the artist it represents.

Note they also count Slighly Stoopid, Electrocute, and The Pet Shop Boys (!) as clients.