14 December 2005

Viral Marketing Done Right

Back in September, Steve Hall at AdRants wrote about an odd viral campaign for a Dutch newspaper (AdRants post). Steve didn't know what the Dutch newspaper's message was, but he called the "viral" part a success -- because the editors at Boing Boing linked to the story. Ie, edit coverage by Boing Boing equals a viral home run.

Today, Boing Boing editor Xeni Jardin kicked off another viral success story (Xeni's post), this time for a brand that wasn't pulling zany stunts in order to "go viral":

"I haven't done this before, but wanted to share a personal anecdote involving one of Boing Boing's sponsors -- Recently, I needed to find a hotel room in a *totally* sold out city at the last minute. I had no luck with the travel websites and bucket shops I usually turn to for hotel booking. Just when it looked like a $900/night janitor's closet at the Podunk Craquehaus was my only option, I remembered the Quikbook ad on Boing Boing. I clicked tentatively, ended up booking a great room at an impossibly sold-out upscale hipster property -- at a really nice discount off the rack rate. I'm absolutely planning to use them again. Also, Quikbook smells nice and has great hair."

Unlike most wanna-be viral campaigns, Quikbook used plain old advertising. They did make an effort to let Boing Boing's readers -- an audience which, obviously enough, includes the site's 4 editors -- know that their ad didn't end up on the site by accident: They played off Boing Boing's tagline by referring to themselves as "A directory of wonderful hotels." Not exactly a ground-breaking marketing tactic, but rather one that has been working wonders for over 50 years.

Nor did they disrepect the journalists at Boing Boing with requests for editorial coverage in exchange for ad dollars. They just bought an ad on the site and used the real estate to tell Boing Boing readers exactly what they do. No viral gimmicks and no sleazy tactics.

Meanwhile, Quikbook's web servers are overheating right now because Xeni pointed the 2 million people who read Boing Boing (and another 1.3 million who subscribe to Boing Boing's feed) to their site with an unsolicited rave review.

(Disclosure: Federated Media, my employer, handles ads sales & other business stuff for Boing Boing.)


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