The acting is wooden, the music is cheesy, but Blendtec’s ‘Will It Blend?’ is deservedly one of the all-time-great viral campaigns…
Tom Dickson is an unlikely superstar. He’s chubby and totally unable to act, yet his popularity has reached such levels in the US that ‘Tom Dickson is my Homeboy’ T-shirts are now all the rage. Why? Because since 2006 Mr Dickson has fronted a series of online videos in which he cheerfully drops everything from marbles to the new iPhone 4 into a blender and mashes the bejesus out of them.
The reason for such wanton destruction is so that Dickson, the CEO of blender manufacturer Blendtec, can demonstrate the efficacy of his company’s product. It’s a simple yet clever idea. But what’s really clever is that Blendtec’s marketing director, George Wright, created a fully integrated, fully interactive social media campaign that has resulted in a massive 700% increase in sales for Blendtec in four years.
All expense spared
The Blendtec campaign demonstrates the essential beauty of social media as a marketing tool. You don’t need to spend a small fortune on a complicated advertising campaign if you’ve got a good product and a good idea that you are able to execute well.
When he joined Blendtec, Wright had heard that Dickson used to blend seemingly un-blendable objects to test the blenders’ abilities and to entertain his employees, and instantly realised that these fun, crowd-pleasing antics were marketing gold. With rudimentary props and filming in the Blendtec break room, Wright created the first of the videos.
In a stroke, he had succeeded in humanising the company by using the engaging Dickson, he had appealed to the child in all of us (who hasn’t wanted to throw a golf ball in a blender and see what happens?), and he had demonstrated just how good Blendtec blenders were.
Integrated, interactive approach
‘Will It Blend?’ was immediately integrated into all of Blendtec’s marketing. It appears on Twitter, on Facebook, on a microsite, on the Blendtec website and on the company blog. Importantly, Blendtec interacts with its customers, allowing them to suggest objects for Dickson to blend, which in turn become future videos. Through this simple strategy, Blendtec has not only engaged with its customers on a fundamental level, it is also allowing the customers to create content that they themselves disseminate through social media channels.
The videos continue, sometimes featuring more ‘sophisticated’ storylines (one includes a Steve Jobs lookalike), but still retaining their sense of fun and not taking themselves or the company too seriously. Dickson remains front and centre in them, and his irreverent, slightly cheeky, slightly goofy persona still serves to personalise the brand.
Wright’s goal was to raise brand awareness and brand recognition. For an initial outlay of $100, combined with a canny appreciation of the reach of social media, he achieved that in spades.
Peter Applebaum is the Founder and Managing Director of Tick Yes.
Tick Yes is a social media marketing company based in Sydney that uses proven digital relationship marketing strategies to help clients improve brand awareness, increase market share and meet profit objectives.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+