Blenders, Marbles, and i-Phones

Its hard to believe that a dozen years have gone by since Jeffrey F. Rayport of Harvard Business School coined the term Viral Marketing.

A viral message replicates itself through voluntary participation of the recipients, spreading an idea through preexisting social networks, much like a pathological virus spreads through a population.

The self-replicating part is what excites marketers.

A popular video clip which is shared through the Internet or camera phones is known as viral video. Popular examples include the Evolution of the Dance or the Star Wars Kid (which has been viewed more than 900 million times).

Imagine the possibilities. People circulating your video, for free? But, wait a minute. These videos have high entertainment value. Not too many carry any company’s advertising message.

Humm.

How does a company use viral video to promote its products?

You do something, or say something, that makes people want to share the video clip with their friends.

Take Blendtec, for instance.

Blendtec is an appliance manufacturer. They make a pretty good food blender. How does one convince people to talk about kitchen appliances, and more importantly, to promote the Blendtec brand?

You show the power of the blender.

Blendtec spent an average of $50 each on their “Will it blend?” series of videos. Anyone could have blended food. Blendtec got attention by demonstrating their blender’s ability to turn anything into dust.

Tom Dickson, Blendtec’s CEO, stars in all of the company’s videos. Google “Blendtec” to watch Tom (and his blender) pulverize such items as marbles, hockey pucks, and even crowbars.

If that wasn’t outrageous enough, Tom successfully pushed his company’s awareness levels in the public consciousness over the top, by turning a $600 i-Phone into powder?

Some viral strategies work better than others.

Blendtec’s strategy is brilliant on two levels.

  • First, the shear outrageousness of blending hockey pucks and crowbars is likely to get people to talk about the power of this blender – which focuses on the attributes the manufacturer wants you, the consumer, to remember.
  • Second, people don’t usually Google search “marbles,” but you can bet that with the highly publicized launch of the product they did search for “i-Phone.” Over six million visitors hit
    Blendtec‘s web site in the first ten days following this video’s release.

Remember, getting noticed is only part of the equation. Being remembered for something which promotes attributes of what you’re selling is the other part.


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about producing viral video may be directed to [email protected].