In one of my previous blog entries some successful viral campaigns have been discussed and readers have shown scepticism about return on investment factors. This encouraged me to investigate a little further into the ROI factors of “Will it blend?” that represents a superb campaign which prospered massively.
“Will It Blend?” started as trial viral marketing campaign consisting of a series of commercial shows demonstrating BlendTec’s product the “Total Blender”.
BlendTec founder and CEO Tom Dickson grinds an unbelievable range of items in order to demonstrate the power of his product.
The idea came from George Wright, BlendTec’s vice president of marketing, who got excited about Tom Dickinsin’s extraordinary testing methods in order to assure the quality of his products.
“…The way he tests equipment is very extreme. And he does a lot of crazy things and this blender did a lot of amazing things under this destructive testing. My first thought was, you know I would like to see that happen the next time he does it. And then I kept thinking you know what? I bet everyone else would like to see that happen too, this is amazing staff – and so we did!…” (Hear the full interview with George Wright provided by Rocky Mountain Voices here or at PodTech)
They set up an account with the popular video sharing side YouTube on the 30th of October 2006 and currently have 172 658 subscribers, 3 270 602 channel views and 83 different video clips (see here). With the slogan: “See what the Total Blender can do in the BlendTec test lab, as we ask the question, Will It Blend?” they also encourage viewers to submit ideas of what they would like to see being blend.
According to an article by Information Week, George Wright, BlendTec’s vice president of marketing said that BlendTec suffered a lack of brand awareness, even being in the business producing commercial blenders for years. Operating in the B2B sector mainly, BlendTec introduced its blenders for the B2C market, but could not afford “tens of thousands for a marketing campaign” for a traditional above-the-line advertising campaign.
Wright states in the interview with Rocky Mountain Voices that social media such as blogs and the video sharing site YouTube, combined with the technology offered his company a great opportunity for more branding. By aligning with the right social networks and some leading blogs within five days the campaing had a massive break through.
With reference to Econsultancy BlendTec’s site traffic has increased by 650% since the videos have been introduced. Both, Information Week and Econsultancy report that BlendTect’s sales have increased five-fold over previous record revenues. Additional revenue was generated through the ad-share program with video sharing network Reever.
This campaign enabled BlendTec an incredible media outreach and PR buzz which happened through third party endorsement and was not a prescribed expensive advertisement campaign. Of course not every viewer ends up becoming a new customer, but the campaign represents “a breakthrough in demographics“ for BlendTech’s brand awareness and image creation.
A great example for the immense power of new media and social networks. Finally, the breakthrough of this campaign required a good idea, material for about $50.- and some hours of recording and testing – nothing in comparison with the costs of normal advertising campaigns!
Thanks to George Wright I am able to update this post with some further information. I have asked him about offline effort related to the online campaign, as literature strongly recommends to have a combination of both online and offline promotion. He responded that is has been primarily an online campaign with only a few exceptions when it comes to traditional marketing efforts:
- we included http://www.willitblend.com on our packaging of our retail products
- we have hosted live blending performances at trade shows and corporate events
- we did have a billboard that we had made that is on the side of our building… proudly showing Tom blending a rake
It may appear like little efforts, but to me these were essential steps that needed to be done. Moreover a campaign that is covered online and offline receives higher degree of credibility and potential customer may perceive it as being “in reach”.
Step one shows additional awareness creation and increases traffic to their webpage. Besides that, it connects existing customers to fans or admirers of the campaign. Happy customers can turn into brand advocates, defend the brand from negative criticism or convince sceptics with their personal experience with the brand. They encourage passion and excitement which strengthens the online campaign and spreads positive word-of-mouth.
Step two serves similar principles like step two, as individuals got the chance to be part of a live “Will it blend?” showcase, which must have generated excitement, convinced sceptics and increased the desire: I must tell this story to people I know! Seeing the performance online is already pretty impressive, now imagine the impact if all that happens right in front of you. Event if I probably would not buy one of these blenders (they are pretty costly), I would definitely tell to people that I’ve seen it happen and that all is real… Some of my friends would then pass the message to others and spread the word that they know someone who has seen it and so one… And, a few links later probably someone will then defend the “Will it blend?” campaign online by saying: no, it’s not fake, I know someone who has seen all that happen live – it’s all true. And if it all works ideally and any of my friends who runs a bar or restaurant should require a new blender I may recommend BlendTec!
Step three is probably the least effective method for brand awareness creation. People who live close or drive by notice the billboard. Hence, awareness creation happens within a geographically restricted area. Nevertheless, the word can still be spread wider. Besides that, I see other benefits from that move. By placing a billboard on their building BlendTec’s employees may have enhanced their personal feeling of commitment and pride towards the organisation. Having happy, committed and motivated employees is a remarkable part that adds to an organisation’s competitive advantage.
The more I learnd about BlendTec’s campaing the more impressed I am from what they have achieved! A prime example of a successful viral campaign that definitely deserves to be mentioned in future viral marketing literature!