Video: Can Atlantis Topple Silk Road?

By Bryan Le 06/27/13

An ambitious new website with a cute marketing campaign seeks to seize Silk Road's status as the Amazon of illegal drugs. But some smell a honeypot.

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Silk Road—the "amazon of drugs"—has dominated the illegal online market since 2011. But now there's a rival on the block: Atlantis—a new drug-selling site armed with a flashy ad campaign and a cute commercial. Silk Road, in contrast, has always relied on word-of-mouth. Billing itself as the "world's best anonymous online drug marketplace," Atlantis has just kicked off its social media campaign with a cartoon ad, in the style of a Silicon Valley startup. The video (below), features Charlie, a stoner who recently moved and "can't get any dank buds” in his new city. Cue Atlantis—which swoops to deliver him weed within 24 hours, and gets him “high as a kite” for “no fees for purchases.” The site accepts the online currency Bitcoin as well as lesser-known "Litecoin," and boasts lower prices. It's reportedly been pitching journalists and attempting to lure Silk Road sellers with discount offers.

But why would a site that sells illegal drugs opt for such an open marketing strategy? “We want to bring attention to the site and bring our vendors more buyers,” Atlantis's CEO explains on Reddit. “Law enforcement is going to be aware of us (and probably already is) regardless of the way we choose to put our product out there.” Some Reddit users say they already prefer Atlantis to Silk Road because of its friendlier interface and less shady atmosphere. But many have reservations—and many more believe Silk Road has too much heft to go down without a fight. “Going to take more than a day in [Adobe] after effects, one would assume, to pry customers from trusted [SilkRoad] vendors,” comments one Reddit user. “Even with the price lowered, reputation is everything in this business.” Others fear that Atlantis's marketing campaign will attract the "wrong kinds" of people. “The advert pissed me off a bit, I think it will attract an irresponsible audience," says another Reddit user. “[I] Just think this advert makes it look too flowery and 13 year olds are gunna be ordering weed through the post to impress their mates.” Others suspect that the whole site and campaign is a narc-driven ploy—or, as one user puts it: "the biggest fucking honeypot sting ever."

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter

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