Viral Marketing in the Content Generation
In 2009, Ivar’s, a local Pacific Northwest seafood chain, launched the search for what it described as three lost “billboards” placed at the bottom of Puget Sound by the company’s founder, in the belief that submarine travel was the wave of the future. To great fanfare, Ivar’s rented a boat, a crew, launched an intensive hunt for the signs, and indeed, hoisted what appeared to be, a large rusted 50’s era sign reading “Ivar’s Chowder”, out of Puget Sound later that same year. Before you know it, accredited news organizations, like the Seattle Times were covering the story, video was making its rounds on social, and the company had a great bit of marketing on its hands. One thing was for certain, the Ivar’s brand was a topic of conversation at water-cooler conversations around the Pacific Northwest over those couple of months.
Sadly, you may not be surprised to learn that the campaign was a hoax and the supposedly antique steel billboards, merely painted wood; all part of an early viral marketing piece created by “Heckler Associates”, a Seattle based ad agency. The good news is that while you may not be able to foot the $250,000 bill that Ivar’s paid out for the stunt (or maybe you can), there are some amazingly simple lessons to be learned about chasing the elusive viral content unicorn here.
- Keep it Fun
- Keep it Relatable
- Keep it Weird
Developing great viral content is like a Chinese finger trap. If you’re trying to get your customer to buy something, you’re doing it wrong. The goal when developing this type strategy should always focus on “positive brand association” or…becoming your customers friend. We want to tell a story about our brand in such a way that it produces positive, engaged, emotions with our customers. We are not trying to sell our customers clams. We are trying to create a set of emotional triggers in them, such that when they do eventually think about having clams for dinner, having clams at our restaurant is the only rational course of action.
Too many times, young brands will come to us exasperated that they don’t have the time, money, or worst of all, creativity to get involved with these type of content marketing efforts. Here, we encourage them (and you) to take a step back and consider “quality over quantity”. One “Ice Bucket Challenge” is worth 1000 prime time TV commercials. How would you want to be marketed to? Keep it fun, keep it relatable, keep it weird. Be the guy you’d want to hang out with at a party.
We’d love to help build your next marketing campaign. Please contact us and we’ll be in touch, shortly.