Archive for the ‘viral marketing’ Category


Integrated Viral Campaign by Opel Makes Impact

December 20, 2006

I liked this viral campaign implemented in Belgium and the Netherlands by Opel (European GM division).

It’s from MarketingSherpa. Read the MarketingSherpa study here.

What do I like about it?

Short, seeminly entertaining, and with a number of unique aspects:

  • It worked off of an opt-in list (so these people already had a favorable attitude toward the Opel brand)
  • It included a dynamic personalization aspect (the viewer’s name would actually appear in the viral video)
  • It integrated a telemarketing call into the experience, that should happen, if I understand the program correctly, while the viewer is experiencing the video.

That’s both impressive and impactful.

Based on the study, it was also wildly successful and led to much viral buzz, stemming from the group that had opted in. Which, btw, makes sense, as those people are likely to be your brand advocates.

It’s good to see GM making some smart moves somewhere in the world!


Wall Street Journal Highlights Big Agencies’ Struggles

July 12, 2006

Publicis Chief Seeks Unity Within
In today’s Wall Street Journal article Publicis Chief Seeks Unity Within, Aaron O. Patrick points out some of the problems large advertising agencies face.

Publicis Groupe’s chief Mr. Levy called the heads of Publicis Groupe’s agencies…where he told the gathering of 130 senior executives that Publicis had created bureaucracy to “satisfy egos” and suffers from a “silo mentality” that hurts clients.

I’ve never worked for a large agency, but I’ve worked for a number of large corporations. It’s hard to make things happen. This supports my idea that companies may actually find better value in smaller agencies. GM recently dumped Leo Burnett for a smaller agency. Some of the best viral marketing has come from smaller agencies (I don’t have time to link to them all – sorry).

Mark Morse, founder of my (small) agency, Morsekode, often talks about the bureaucracies of his former employers, Fallon and Carmichael Lynch. He says those silos and layers were the reason he founded Morsekode. He wanted to start something different. He felt we can offer creative in line with any of the largest in the world, but at a better value because of our size and structure.

I think he’s right. We’ve been proving him right.

Furthermore, I know that our clients enjoy the relationship we are able to afford because of our size — the personal touch and the responsiveness that every customer longs for.

Communication Often A Problem
This recent quote from a MarketingSherpa case study highlights another problem clients typically have with agencies: communication.

The main problem is communication. I need to guide my virtual team, if I can’t communicate, then it’s not a good partnership. Personality has a piece of it.

I like what this guy says about personality. The personality of a team can mean the world to an effective relationship.

That’s the stuff that really energizes me. I’m glad not to be one of 130 senior executives who have to spend time worrying about silos. . .I’ll stick to composing ideas that grow business.

That’s where the fun is . . . and where the results are too.

PS For you regular readers. Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to take a little break to investigate the beauty of relaxation in southern Spain and do my best not to stay connected. Enjoy July and I’ll come back with some new marketing discussion topics in August. Thanks again for stopping by.


OPML the Prescription for Anxiety Caused by Social Media (Blogs, Podcasts, RSS, etc.)?

June 7, 2006

Recently I began to feel an anxiety as I found myself bloglogged with millions more available for me to be aware of, to parse, to review, to explore.

It reminded me of 1995 when I first opened an early Netscape browser late one night at SAP and began exploring the already impressive number of Websites available. I could have, and did, spend hours in amazement at what was available.

Maybe you have experienced this anxiety too?
The anxiety of knowing there are massive amounts of information available and the uncertainty about whether you know all you want to know. Have I read all the blogs relevant to me and my industry? Can I speak authoritatively?

There’s a fear of seeming ignorant, not “in the know.”

Social Media like blogs, Podcasts, etc. have brought this anxiety to new levels.

A Movement Brewing
It seems there is a movement in the brewing among a niche (or maybe not so niche?) group of developers who are deep into investigating solutions to solve this “Information Overload.”

Alex Barnett (of Microsoft) was interviewed in this DevSource clip talks about, among other things, OPML and how it may be the answer.

What Is OPML?
This is what Wikipedia has to say:

OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. Originally developed by Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators.

This idea is that if we somewhat formalize a manner of general tagging, people will be able to limit the information they consume through a simple subscription/filtering operation. More formalized than the type of tagging you see on Technorati and the like. (And, btw, I’m just trying to make you aware – I’m still trying to get my head around all of this too.)

Why Should Anyone in Advertising or Marketing Care?
As viral or word of mouth campaigns become more the norm and people are “choosing” what advertising they view, appropriate tagging of your content (without spamdexing) may be important in determining how far of a reach your message gets. Same for blogs, websites, etc. (Actually, it’s already true for these.)

For example, let’s say you or had something posted on – aside from the viral traffic, it would automatically appear a list of new information in a new generation of aggregators for people who had said “I’m interested in X, Y, and Z.”

Maybe it will become a bit of an art form like Search Engine Optimization.

Natural Discovery?
One problem with this approach, raised by the interviewer in the DevSource clip, is that it may limit natural discovery of those unexpected gems of information.

Maybe it’s worth it to reduce my anxiety? (Probably!)

Question (or another big potential problem)
Can we count on authors to tag their content most appropriately and meaningfully?

Will this work?

Everything has become so fast and so immediate – is there any chance that we are sacrificing the quality of information presented? Will this new breed of web writers/bloggers/producers/etc. all die prematurely of heart attacks trying to instantly and constantly say something informative, relevant and meaningful? 😉


Body Hair All the Buzz in Viral Marketing

May 30, 2006

Becky (also from Morsekode) pointed me to another viral campaign – this time it’s This is an interesting approach as it’s a mock “campaign” against guys who wear “scruf.” (Much different from the campaign – and probably much less successful)

The draw for guys? Scantily clad models with unshaven underarmpits and legs (not sure that will have the same effect in Europe, but that’s a different entry). There are some mock news clips, a short length film, a song, and (I think) some poetry. The site itself takes on the non-profit, low-budget appearance.

Looks like the site/campaign was done by Digitas who currently has Gillette as a client.

What’s the Strategy?
I think the campaign has some nice elements that may attract some traffic. The question Becky asks is

“Is it a good idea for the company to go nameless in this?” (nowhere is Gilette mentioned in the campaign – at least not in my short viewing.)

That’s a great question.

Let’s say they get the traffic – then what?
I can only assume they intend to extend the campaign in some other formats or continue the no-scruf revolution. I would have a hard time seeing how this campaign would currently translate directly to Gilette sales. And without any mention of a Gilette product, it doesn’t even encourage awareness.

Maybe there’s more to come in the story?

I guess we’ll wait and see. As it sits right now, it would appear that this is largely wasted money.


Reaching Hard-to-Reach Audiences with Viral Marketing (and a brief rant on the lack of integrity from some bloggers)

May 12, 2006

The Wall Street Journal did a story on The Philips Bodygroom and the viral campaign they used to launch it. I blogged about it last week, voicing my concern over the brand voice, but also pointing out that it would be successful – which it obviously has been.

If you haven’t considered viral marketing, The Wall Street Journal article pointed out one really strong case for it:

Viral marketing, or word-of-mouth, is really an excellent tool for reaching audiences that are, well, hard to reach. (my paraphrase)

People who know you and your interests will send you links to things they feel you will find relevant and interesting. So, by the time a viral message gets to you, the chances of it being relevant are probably pretty good – unless they’re from your mom, of course. 😉 If not relevant, they at least feel you’ll be entertained.

Now for my brief rant
I posted a comment on another site about the Philips viral campaign and asked to be notified when someone else posts. Today there was a new post talking how awesome the campaign was, highlighting very specific details of the campaign and how Philips and their ad agency should really be commended. They offered a link to Amazon where you can buy the item. The link to the author, interestingly enough, also linked to the Amazon page listing the Philips product.

And therein lies the problem. Like the comment posted on my entry in this blog about the Philips viral, the comment on this other site is likely from the agency that created the campaign. I’m amazed that someone has no problem posing as an average consumer and misleading the reader. I guess I shouldn’t be.

But, if your campaign is so super, you shouldn’t have to go around and give yourself props (from fictional consumers) on everyone’s blogs – if it’s relevant, it will get sent.

I’ll save my The Integrity of Blogs topic for some other day. . .when I’m not grumpy.


Shave Everywhere – Good or Bad Viral Marketing?

May 4, 2006

Becky at Morsekode sent me a link to the Philips Body Groomer website at I am struggling.

Do I think it’s hilarious? Yes.

Is it well produced? Yes.

Will it create buzz? Yes.

“So what’s your problem, John?” you might ask.

Well, I have two issues (maybe three) – mostly from a brand management perspective. And maybe I shouldn’t. Hear me out and then you can tell me if I’m wrong.

Viral Marketing Should Still Be On Brand
I feel like any marketing should reflect the brand. Now, I don’t know what Philips has for brand guidelines, but I wonder if this reflects it. I feel like there are quite a few more references to vulgar language in the song, comments, etc. It’s all “bleeped” out, but you know what they are saying. Is that on brand? Humor may be on brand, but this is a level lower than I feel (as an outsider) fits Philips.

Does it Have to be Dirty to Be Funny?
I know, I sound like a prude here. (Remember, though, I said it was funny.) But let’s think about the audience. How many more conservative consumers might consider this project? – did Philips just alienate a large portion of their market? Is the extra viral spread worth it? They could have used similar humor in a more classy fashion and still received similar results. Does the guy really need to “adjust his goods” while he’s standing there?

Is this a “Me Too” Viral?
I love creativity, humor, and entertainment. However, this seems to be a little bit of a “best of” viral approach where the creators took elements from other successful viral programs and threw them into a big pot. I wish it were completely fresh.

Any Attention = Good Attention?
Some would say that any attention, good or bad, is good attention. I think, in this case, though that they degraded the brand, and while this potentially has short-term gains (for this product), I wonder if it might have a negative impact on the brand and consumer perception of Philips?

What do you think?


The Value of an Idea (or maybe “What Makes a Great Agency?”)

April 28, 2006

Every week my team and I set together to talk about our accounts. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We also take some time to “sharpen the saw,” reading and discussing business books like “Good to Great,” “The One Thing You Need to Know,” or any number of marketing-branding-advertising related books.

Right now were working through “Eating the Big Fish” by Adam Morgan. This morning’s discussion centered on using “advertising and the consistent strategic pursuit of the right publicity” as a strategic asset.

It’s chapter 10 in the book and it talks about the impact a “relevant and distinctive” idea can have – complete with case studies. If you haven’t read this, it might change your attitude about whether advertising is really dead as some love to claim.

Beyond mere advertising, this chapter, to me, helps to define what separates a great agency from the mediocre. A great agency, while having excellent production skills, will be able to consistently develop “relevant and distinctive” ideas. The viral program I wrote about yesterday worked because it was relevant and distinctive to its audience.

The talent to execute ideas is widespread.

The talent to birth those ideas – not as much.