Blending YouTube and Brand Awareness

    December 19, 2006

Coke just unveiled a joint marketing effort with YouTube to expand its presence online. Perhaps Mentos opened Coke’s eyes to the potential of social media?

Smaller, faster brands are using YouTube to create a broad presence online from relative obscurity. Consider Blendtec. Its Will it Blend? series is hilarious. They test a blender with extreme objects, including a handful of ink pens, golf balls, a crowbar and, as you see above, even an iPod.

The spots to date average 270,000 views apiece and all of them drive viewers to a Will it Blend web site. According to the site, Blendtec even did a demonstration on The Today Show a few weeks ago.

The demos remind me of the classic Bass-O-Matic skit from SNL. Will it Blend host and Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson could just as easily be doing these demos on The David Letterman Show.

Blendtec Marketing Manager George Wright discussed the campaign with Strategic Public Relations via email.

SPR: It’s unconventional for a home appliance manufacturer to take an approach like this. Please give me some background on the Will it Blend series.

Wright: Tom Dickson, Owner and CEO of Blendtec has been performing extreme tests on Blendtec blenders for years. It is not uncommon for Tom to take a 2×2 board and jam it into a blender to test the durability of the motor, bearings, coupling or blade.

When I approached Tom about actually filming these extreme blending challenges and putting video clips out on the web, he thought that it would be fun and quickly agreed. We hoped for good results but we never imagined that it would take off and demand millions of views as quickly as it did. Tom loves to say, “Before the campaign started, I did not even know what YouTube was In fact, when George said we were going to post the videos on YouTube, I said Who Tube?” Now our videos are getting millions of views on YouTube.

SPR: What has the overall response been so far?

Wright: The response has been amazing. Every day, I get calls from people that would like to use the will it blend campaign in a new way. One small example: a police academy in Florida contacted me with interest in the segment on blending mobile phones. The instructor would like to show the mobile phone blending clip as part of the orientation portion of the class, to encourage students to turn off their phones during class.

SPR: What are your metrics for the campaign? Are you meeting them?

Wright: Yes – we track new traffic, unique visitors, web references, media placements, news paper, magazine and television placements. Our results eclipsed our expectations, both in impact, volume and timeframe. The return for the $50 that we spent to produce the first round of videos is staggering. We literally have built a brand for our home products

SPR: Have you seen a direct correlation between interest in the campaign and sales?

Wright: as well as are getting an unprecedented level of internet traffic. Even though this is a branding campaign used to drive top of mind awareness, we have already seeing strong sales growth in the fourth quarter for Total Blenders.

SPR: Any lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Wright: Keep it simple, be clear on your objectives and beware of scope creep!

SPR: Any advice to other companies considering using social media to market their products?

Wright: Any time you find yourself saying “that is cool” – or “I want to watch”, pay attention – you may be on to something amazing.

SPR: What are the weirdest objects people have requested for blending?

Wright: False teeth, toupee, report cards are among the ones that stick out. Many people want to see electronics destroyed – mobile phones, Play Stations, iPods and more.

What I love about this is how Blendtec can do what most other corporations simply cannot will not do not do-let go and assume a more human voice with their customers. In this example we can see the benefits of doing so.


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Kevin Dugan is the author of the popular Strategic Public Relations blog. Kevin is Director of Marketing Communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Visit Kevin’s blog: Strategic Public Relations.