Posts Tagged ‘buzz’


Viral Efforts from Switzerland

November 10, 2009

Having to complete my MSc Marketing dissertation combined with striving for perfection has unfortunately meant I have had no time left for blogging during the past few months. However, my hard work has paid off and I am very pleased with my achievements, the result and all the valuable knowledge I have gained. In my dissertation research I came across a variety of viral marketing cases and I would like to discuss some of them further here and in my next posts.

Mary Woodbridge – Mammut Sports Group AG

The Swiss brand for technical outwear Mammut has had some impressive global headlines back in 2005/2006 with their campaign called “Mary Woodbridge”. The campaign was made by the Swiss marketing agency Spillmann / Felser / Leo Burnett who came up with the story of Mary Woodbridge in December 2005. The campaign featured an 85-year old lady from Greenfield, UK, who planned an expedition to mount Mount Everest with her dachshund after having bought a Mammut winter jacket of such superior quality that unexpectedly, the elderly lady felt empowered to master any challenge. They created an interactive webpage showing her expedition training, introducing her dog and expedition partner “Daisy”, training sessions, a guestbook and movies (see here). As well as her age Mary’s story hits controversy as she planed to use a direct route from the base camp to the top, rather than using the suggested route offering four additional intermediate camps to rest. In addition, she wanted to dispense with the use of Sherpas as well as the use of an oxygen mask, as there are no such masks for her dog Daisy.

Woodbridge's wishful thinking

Woodbridge's wishful thinking

Having created a very insightful webpage, which seems to show that Mary Woodbridge had thought through everything and was more or less ready to go the only missing point seemed to be funding. In order to cover the financial side of her plans, “she” contacted major mountain equipment companies, international media, climbing magazines to request sponsorship for her and Daisy’s trip. A number of ads are placed in mountaineering magazines and internet forums were consulted for useful tips and advice. A great way to create buzz within the climbing and mountaineering scene and the social networking space. Quickly climbers, alpinists and bloggers discovered Mary, her story and webpage and soon after she hit the headlines. Once the story took off, media coverage and online discussions on forums, discussion boards and social networking sites were mounting. Globally, 250 newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasts reported about Mary, wishing her the best of luck for her undertaking. For some examples please see the list below:

Woodbridge Press Coverage

Woodbridge Press Coverage

Once the buzz reached it’s peak the story was revealed  by Mammut stepping out of the dark with the slogan:

“Equipment this good can cause a loss of common sense”.

Initially, clips like the one above were shown without Mammut’s branding at the end. Bringing Mary Woodbridge to life was the start of Mammut’s new marketing communications strategy that intended to promote their core value of mountaineering safety of best Swiss quality. Their intention was to remind sportsmen that the ever improving Mammut gear offering increased safety, does not justify unnecessary risk-taking. Follow up advertisements of Mammut built on the Mary Woodbridge story and the above introduced slogan, please see below.

Overly confident skier in Mammut gear is pissing bikers off...

Overly confident skier in Mammut gear is annoying bikers...

Moreover, point of sale and magazine advertisements were supporting the Woodbridge campain, which helpet to increase the buzz as well as to promote the campaign’s message (if you want to download Mammut’s promotional brochure with Mary’s story please click here). Another case, showing that the combination of online and offline marketing efforts has a positive outcome on a campaign’s objectives.

The publicity campaign was a huge success in terms of awareness creation and international brand disclosure and was also awarded with numerous awards such as the Swiss advertising film award (EDI Award), the Swiss Marketing Trophy, the Crossmedia Award, the Epica Award, the ADC in Switzerland, ADC bronze in Germany and silver at the New York Festival.

Leaves – Zimtstern GmbH

Staying within the area of Swiss technical outwear, I came across a clip by Zimtstern, a Swiss snowboard and street clothing brand. The clip was directed by Marco Lutz,  a Swiss film director, who has been responsible for a variety of memorable cult snowboard movies, which have been a worldwide success and produced by Stefan Bircher. Matching to this winter’s collection by Zimtstern, which is following the theme of “wildlife” the idea around “leaves” came to life. Hence, the viewer is surprised with classy snowboarding on a nice sunny day in fall, on leaves and as fas as the eye can see – no sign of snow!

From a viral marketing perspective, a viral video requires certain key characteristics in order to appeal to a wide audience. In my research about “The Strategic Use of Viral Marketing amongst Social Networks” I identified the following key content criteria: entertaining, compelling, creative, relevant to target audience, adding value to viewer, share worthy, engaging, simple, interesting, honest, shocking/surprising, short, unique and new. Watching the leaves spot I am very keen to say: this spot, if seeded successfully, has got all the potential to become a huge viral success within the snow sports industry and reward Zimtstern in terms of an increased brand awareness. It has only been two months and the clip has already received considerable coverage from bloggers, forums, magazines, social networking sites and is placed on several video sharing sites. Additionally, the clip is free to download on, which supports the ease of viral spread.

And because it has been so nice, please see below the making of the spot “leaves” by junior film maker Pierre Castillo Bernad.


Cardosystems – Can Cellphones Make Popcorn?

May 6, 2009

By watching TV yesterday I have discovered the show called “Rude Tube” on channel E4, which I found very amusing. Basically, Alex Zane, a British comedian,  presents the most popular viral videos that have ever been shown on the Internet. On their web page, individuals can leave comments and rate videos, but they must sign up, as only registered members are able to leave a comment. A good way for a TV channel to take advantage of the numerous opportunities delivered by the World Wide Web in order to become more interactive. E4 have also achieved great success by launching a feed on Twitter, reporting the latest news of the popular TV series “Skins” and hit 10,000 followers in one day. You can follow them as well by clicking here. Skins is a British award winning TV series that tells the life stories of a group of teenagers living in Bristol.

However, one of the clips was the one, which all of you must have seen or heard about at some point. Once more, video sharing has served as a new media tool to create awareness. The original video shows four French people having a few kernels of maize on a table, surrounded by their mobile phones. Now they make all their phones ring simultaneously, and the kernels puff into popcorn. After a while a series of other cases from  additional countries appeared to make it look like like people tested it all over the world, but watch it yourself:

This video has currently 12, 869, 303 views on video sharing site Dailymotion, since it was released online in May 2008. For those of you who do not know it yet, it was all fake. The videos were part of a guerilla marketing campaign made by the American organisation Cardosystems, who tried to promote their headphones with new Bluetooth technology. The idea behind it was to encourage people to use headphones rather than the phone itself. In an interview with CNN the CEO of Cardosystems as well as founder of the campaign, Abraham Glezerman reveals all the secrets:

What a successful campaign with a return on investment of a 100% sales increase. Even marketing strategist Seth Godin refers to that case as a “vivid” marketing story. Nevertheless, one may argue whether this kind of campaign was ethically correct or not, as people were led to the conclusion that cell phones may cause serious health damage. Are there any negative consequences when marketing chooses to go the delusional way? Ehret claims in his blog “The Marketing Spot” that he would probably avoid Cardosystems if dealing in the Bluetooth industry:“I do have a hard time believing that there was no attempt at deception on Cardo Systems’ part. If I were in the market for Bluetooth, I would probably skip Cardo.”

The videos caused both excitement and outrage. Many people really liked the content and had a laugh about it, whilst others are in serious fear what their phone could do to their health. I suppose that the way in which news and information are distributed differs from country to country and hence, the perception caused by such marketing campaigns may differ depending on the culture. In this blog one of the readers claims, that the videos have scared many people in Israel.

Here is the final clip they launched to advertise their product:

In terms of awareness creation I believe that Cardosystems have done a great job. The video spread like wildfire on the web and achieved a stunning number of views and media response. The Internet is a great tool to get information, but this case also proves once more, that people have to be more critical about what they read or see. Everyone is able to publish content, so information that appears a bit dubious should be questioned by the reader and not trusted immediately. If Cardosystems had revealed themselves from the start, the video would have never achieved such a marketing buzz as it did. I find it difficult to judge whether they acted socially irresponsible or not, as finally, we all have the freedom to choose what we believe or not, but I think I tend to the view that they have not acted unethically and therefore, not broken the “rule” of corporate social responsibility, but I am open to a discussion.

What is your view on the subject? And did you know it was fake?


Delete 10 of your friends on Facebook and get a FREE whopper!

March 27, 2009

What a shocking statement, but believe it or not, that was a recent Burger King Campaign in the USA.

Previously, in April 2005, Burger King landed a massive viral marketing hit (I have discussed viral marketing already in a previous article) with the campaign of the “Subservient Chicken“. The idea was simple, the success massive. A guy dressed in a quiet poor quality chicken costume standing in the middle of a random living room and performing a variety of commands, which can be inserted deliberately by the viewer. Nothing too special to be honest – but the web page turned out to be an enormous success.

Subservient Chicken

Subservient Chicken

According to an article of ViralBlog, Adweek reported that people got absolutely excited by submitting the weirdest commands, spent an average time of seven minutes on the page and also turned the subservent chicken into some sort of a “pop culture”.(read more here) It seems nearly impossible to find a command that bloody chicken does not do. From “jumping jack”, to “riverdance” to “handstand”… it even has a go when you type in “fly”.
According to AdWeek the page had over one million hits within the first day and 20 million hits within the first week. The entire campaign was launched because of Burger King’s, then newly launched, chicken sandwich that could be served the way customers wanted and thus, Crispin Porter‘s campaign for them.

When Burger King introduced another spicy version of the chicken sandwich, they created a campaign called “Chicken Fight” that was supposed to represent their two burgers fighting each other. Basically, a win-win situation for them, as Burger King never looses that way.

Chicken Fight

Chicken Fight

They wanted to express that their chicken burgers are outstanding and no one else but themselves represents competition. Some of you may even be familiar with the related spoof in Family Guy, where character “Peter Griffin” and  a giant cockerel fight each other meaninglessly over and over again without a clear winner, as the chicken to date has never died.

This second page (“chickenfight”) provided users the ability to vote on which chicken should win and also a game they could download and play. Unfortunately that page shut down in the meantime and does not exist anymore.

However, both of these sites showed high interaction potential from consumers by using new media, which appears to be an essential factor for successful viral campaigns. By taking part in the evolution of a multitasking chicken or by influencing a silly fight, fans got the feeling of being involved and engaged with the brand. According to Burger King the campaign was a great success and their web traffic increased massively.

With regard to Burger King’s return on investment AdWeek reports as follows:

“BK reported that sales had steadily increased an average of 9 percent a week. Since then, Geis says the company has seen “double-digit” growth of awareness of the TenderCrisp Chicken Sandwich and “significantly increased” chicken sandwich sales. And the TenderCrisp does sell better than the Original Chicken Sandwich.”

Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” and “Chicken Fight” made it into several marketing textbooks filed as successful viral campaign. Critics were concerned about the long-term benefit of these campaigns, but Burger King’s sales have improved since then.

Now they are back with another unusual campaign that attracted plaudits as well as heavy criticism. In their “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign on social networking site Facebook, Burger King created a campaign within the US that motivated Facebook users to delete 10 of their friends in order to get a voucher for a free Whopper.

Friendship is strong but the Whopper is stronger

Friendship is strong but the Whopper is stronger

Deleted friends were notified through a humorous notification sent by the application about what had happened and received the opportunity to send each other heavily branded “Angry Grams”.  The campaign took off and people were deleting each other for the sake of getting a free burger and obviously, added each other afterwards yet again. With reference to Inside Facebook the campaign was forced down by Facebook and the “functionality for violating users” had to be removed. Some argue that Facebook did not like Burger King encouraging aggression and that also caused some negative publicity.

A Facebook spokesperson announced to Inside Facebook the following:

“We encourage creativity from developers and companies using Facebook Platform, but we also must ensure that applications meet users’ expectations. After constructive conversations with Burger King and the developer of the application, they have decided to conclude their campaign rather than continue with the restrictions we placed on their application.” (Read the full story here)

Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice

Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice

According to the magazine The Marketer some bloggers were labelling the “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign as “puerile” and “obnoxious”. It must definitely have caused some negative publicity, but to date it is unclear for what exact reasons Facebook decided to intervene. Referencing the New York Times, Burger King responded with the following statement:

“While Facebook was a great sport, they did ask for changes that would have resulted in a different approach to our application, counter to what we developed […] Ultimately, based on philosophical differences, we decided to conclude the campaign and chose to ‘sacrifice’ the application.” (Read more here)

This was another very successful online campaign that seems to have appealed to  Burger King’s target audience. However, this sort of promotion may not be appropriate for every brand; as such an irreverent approach carries high risks for serious damage in brand reputation. The fact is that Burger Kind did their job well in terms of evaluating in advance whether their target audience will appreciate or turn down the campaign. Brand awareness and web traffic were definitely increased. At the point of closure the campaign generated 234,000 “deleted friends” which counts for over 23,400 free Whopper coupons.

Given the low costs of the campaign and the also pretty low NET costs of a burger for Burger King, the campaign must have had a positive return on investment. Free online as well as offline media coverage and lots of buzz – what else do you want as a brand, when you know that your campaigns appeal to your target audience?

Now the very important question (please vote):