Back in 2007, I partnered with a PR agency that handled a french inspired fast food company serving mainly breads and pasta. They were looking into doing a “blogger meet up” and experiment with the idea of measuring word of mouth. They were in the process of launching a new product, which happened to be a special blend of spiked coffee; one of those amaretto or Bailey’s infused mixes.
What was interesting is that they did not go the trimedia approach — so nothing on print, TV or radio. Just 25 or so bloggers of different niches who came out of their own free will to sample the new blend. They had ads placed on their blogs which linked to a microsite that contained a password (“I want to get naughty with my coffee”) which anyone can mention to the barista running the cashier. Mentioning the password counted as a conversion, and as a result you’d get the free coffee.
Not everyone wrote about it — most did but we had about a million or so impressions of the ads in 30 days in these blogs. But the clincher was how the word spread. At the end of 5 days, the restaurant counted 6,000 (give or take a few) walk ins who mentioned the password, with about 2/3 of that number ordering food. “Getting naughty” was also limited between 5 PM to 7 PM as mandated by client.
Something to take home would be the phenomenon of how the word spread. From the initial 25 bloggers, it seems that there were only two ways someone could have come across the promo: by clicking on the ad and being led to the site, or someone telling you to “get naughty” via Twitter, Facebook, or SMS.
This is an interesting framework for online viral campaigns with below the line applications. It’s actually something I always look back to when designing viral campaigns for companies. I’d like to hear more from other marketers on the viability of this sort of model when localized into your area.