Posts Tagged ‘ROI factors’

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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):

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SEO vs. PR – A Valid Judgement?

March 17, 2009

The increased importance of the Internet, and hence new media, may make brands believe that having a substantial online exposure is “the one and only” marketing communications tool of the future to which they can entirely delegate this function and ensure their brand reputation flow. Classical marketing tools such as Public Relations (PR) are suffering as a result of being questioned regarding their relevance in a time where every individual can speak out and be heard by the rest of the world. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts that promote their service of focusing on increased online exposure are giving PR a hard time. Many brands believe that being well presented online with high page ranks and a lot of hits on Google (“Increase your Google hits” by Ron Castle) can replace PR services entirely.

Given the increasing online competition and rising power of new media, the idea of placing the main focus on online campaigns is very tempting. SEO agencies specialise in increasing the level of online exposure using systematic keyword and metadata management, they promote themselves as a way for brands to ensure high page rank and search engine position. Nevertheless, they are lacking the ability to offer “reputation management” and cannot fully replace the role of a PR agency. Globally, the use of the Internet and social networks has increased rapidly, which has offered many opportunities for individuals and brands to have a “public voice”. Even if the role of PR has been challenged by the Internet offering great opportunities to “do it yourself” its importance should not be underestimated. Core tasks of PR such as reputation management, strategic counsel, expertise and increase in media exposure cannot simply be excluded.

Comparing the people behind the services, PR and SEO are two very different dimensions. Whilst SEO specialists have high technical skills and interests, their job consists of HTML generation, page content formatting, systematic keyword selection and implementation, metadata management and page linkage to relevant online resources. In contrast, PR people have rather linguistic skills along with research interests; their business is in understanding the industries and environments their clients operate in order to provide them with strategic reputation management and advice through a network of relevant contacts. Also from an academic perspective it would be different study programs; PR/Marketing for the ones and IT for the others.

Moreover SEO and PR pursue two completely different objectives: whilst SEO aims to create long term traffic, PR in addition to long term traffic, is also concerned with short term traffic. Another aspect is the difference of their operation areas: SEO influences online exposure only and PR concerns on- and offline traffic.

So why is there this ongoing discussion about SEO vs. PR?

As David Meerman Scott points out, keywords alone cannot substitute for good content, which supports the fact that the skills of PR people are required. He also stresses that brands should create content that its target customers or as he calls it buyer personas are interested in – it has to solve their problems, rather than promote services or create content around beneficial key phrases. “For ranking in Google, however, the main benefit of a press release is not direct links or page rank from the press release directly; it is primarily the people who decide to write an article and create links to the product or brand because of the press release (Matt Cutts, head of Google’s WebSpam team, 2005), which also implies that people must like your content in order to link to it.

Unity is Strength

PR and SEO

PR and SEO - unity is strength

SEO should not be considered as a direct competitor of PR, but rather as a tool that PR must apply, in order to flourish online.

Successful online campaigns should always be backed up by offline strategies to achieve cohesive reputation control. All in all these are marketing communications that should be part of an ongoing marketing strategy. I found that picture in a post by Emmanuel Idé, who also shares the opinion about combining PR and SEO that serves as perfect illustration and modified it a little.

Combined these two can maximise ROI factors and secure both the push and the pull effects of marketing communications. Having a balance of push, pull and profile strategies is also recommended by academic literature (e.g. Chris Fill – Marketing Communications). Finally, is consideration of the statement by Phil Dennison, senior marketing specialist of Business Wire: “Make sure name and brand are in the right place at the right time when people are looking for them.” (Read the full story here)

Many organisations are already doing it, and an excellent presentation is delivered by Common Craft:

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ROI for BlendTec’s “Will it Blend?” Campaign

March 13, 2009
blendtec-total-blender1

"Total Blender" by BlendTec

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!

Tom Dickson is my homeboy

Tom Dickson is my homeboy

UPDATE:

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:

  1. we included http://www.willitblend.com on our packaging of our retail products
  2. we have hosted live blending performances at trade shows and corporate events
  3. 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!