Tonga is nearly booked. Expect throngs of celebration-seekers to crowd this tiny island nation, one of the first worldwide to see the year 2000. The enthusiastic are already snapping up "Class of 2000" sweatshirts, while the pessimistic don "Y2K" caps in recognition of the feared technology bug. And in case you've lost track of time, a special "countdown clock" tells you exactly how much of the 20th century you have left.
Make no mistake, this is the biggest marketing event in a thousand years.
John Locher, founder of Seattle firm Milestone Media, which produces the Everything 2000 Web site (http://www.everything2000.com), has identified more than 1,000 trademarks, companies, products and slogans that include the word "millennium" or one of its variants. Examples range from the somber ("The Official Investment Firm of the Millennium") to the silly ("Jocko, Watchdog for the Millennium").
What's all the buzz about? "People love to rally around a moment," explains Locher. "Milestones are very important to people, and this is a big one." Moreover, millennium mania is free for the taking. "There is no organizing committee," he continues. "Anyone can proclaim themselves the `official' whatever of the millennium. And whether it's a joke or not, people pay attention."
As for late-breaking opportunities, Locher suggests there's still time to create commemorative products, launch millennium-related marketing programs and coordinate local events. And since the millennium doesn't officially change until January 1, 2001, one good turn of the calendar may beget another.