It’s a fine line between an audacious-yet-successful marketing stunt and a total disaster. So fine that most marketing executives in charge of brands who have anything at all to lose often defer to safer approaches. Recently though a couple of daring and brilliant stunts have caught my attention, deserving a post with some deeper insight.
Much has been written about TriNet’s Yam Trader idea. Gust was among the hundreds of companies that received a yam in the mail (literally), prompting our CEO to stop by and visit their booth at SXSW. I later connected with TriNet’s Director of Marketing Ken Narita, who was wonderfully open to share their experience. As Ken described, the idea came about when they were faced with the reality that it would not be easy to break through the clutter at SXSW. A bold and funny execution would fit well with SXSW, where creativity abounds and formalities are practically non-existent, enabling companies to go a little wild with very limited negative repercussions to their brands. Hundreds of CEOs of target companies were sent yams, along with an offer to bring them to their SXSW booth to redeem their gift certificate. In addition, people were directed to YamTrader.com, a campaign micro site that re-directed them to TriNet’s real website. Ken reported that the initiative was very successful, with a conversion rate (herein defined as people who brought their yam to the SXSW company booth) in the double digits. While the definition of conversion here does not equate converting a prospect into a customer, Ken estimates TriNet was able to schedule at least 50 meetings as a result of this stunt, in addition to all the great publicity and increased brand awareness that was generated as a result of this bold direct marketing initiative (isn’t it great when a side effect of a direct marketing effort is brand awareness?). Similarly, Unreal Candy had the Easter Bunny go around SXSW apologizing to people for all the bad candy he’d been giving them all these years (Unreal Candy is the maker of all-natural, unprocessed candy). Albeit practically risk-free, this stunt was remarkably simple and creative, generating huge word-of-mouth activity and positive brand coverage.