Monday, April 21, 2008

The Real Value of Blogs for Marketing Is...

I cannot believe how much blogosphere space is being devoted to the Zyrtec "guerrilla marketing" campaign. The guerrilla aspect of that campaign is the attachment of at least one hundred flyers to urban telephone poles and construction site scaffolds.

For my initial take on this, see "Zyrtec Telephone Pole Ad Campaign: Guerilla or Gorilla Marketing?"

Here are some of the blog and other "Web 2.0" posts touting this campaign:
My question is this:
If hundreds of these flyers were nailed to telephone poles and no-one in the blogosphere wrote about it, would it make a sound?

Answer: Nope!

I have no idea if any of the above bloggers who had favorable things to say about this campaign were paid to write their posts and spread the image around the blogosphere. I do know, however, that without these blog posts:
  • You and I may not have heard of this "guerrilla marketing" campaign, and
  • The media, which is sure to pick up on this soon, will not have heard of it nor thought it justified a story.
To my knowledge, there has not yet been a story about this written in the major media. What I expect is that the PR people will continue to work the blogosphere, use that "buzz" as leverage to point out how new and different this is so they can convince a reporter to write about it!

Another question:
If hundreds of these flyers were nailed to telephone poles and NOT ALSO seen in full-page magazine ads and on TV DTC ads, would it make a sound?

The first time I saw this "guerrilla campaign" was actually as a standard full-page DTC ad in Time Magazine! Not very guerrilla.

I have no doubt that I will soon see it also on TV. Here's how it might play on TV:

We see a young woman walking through her neighborhood tacking flyers on poles and trees. A guy walking his dog notices her and wanders over to a flyer after she leaves. You hear nothing but ambient sounds -- no music, no voiceover. The camera zooms in to the ad as the guy plucks a tab off the flyer.

Since TV ads cost a fortune, I cannot envision that the advertisers will not take the opportunity to present the 30-second message you get when you call the number on the tab. So, in my TV version of this ad, the guy uses his cell phone to call the 1-800 number and we hear the message. End of ad.

So, how effective is this "guerrilla" campaign? If it were just the several hundred flyers posted to poles, trees, and scaffolds without the blogosphere buzz and without the full-page ad in Time Magazine, it could not be effective at all!

The blogosphere, however, is a crucial new "buzz building" component of the PR campaign, which these days lays the foundation of a true DTC campaign (see, for example, "PR Marketing: Mystery Wrapped in a Riddle").

It's also questionable whether it can be effective with just added buzz provided by the blogosphere. I contend that it needs the usual suspects -- traditional media, print, TV -- to truly be effective. But then, it no longer is "guerrilla marketing" is it?


  1. Anonymous1:47 PM


    Interesting post. I can't say that a PR person pitched me about this campaign. (Also, I tend to disclose my relationships with folks/companies I'm writing about). I read about it on your blog and saw the flyer: thus I decided to write about it.

    What you're seeing is "word of mouth" at work. Sometimes people are simply surprised or fascinated by something and decide to write about it. No PR intervention necessary.

  2. Fard: Thanks for your comments. Of course, I never for a moment thought you were working for the PR team. PR lights the WOM fuse. Sometimes, however, it requires relighting when it gets snuffed out. Maybe several fuses need to be lit.

    BTW, I walked ALL around midtown NYC last week (from 12th ave and 42nd Street to 5th Avenue and 59th Street) several times and never saw one of these flyers!

  3. Anonymous9:39 PM

    " If hundreds of these flyers were nailed to telephone poles and no-one in the blogsphere wrote about it, would it make a sound?"

    the true answer is yes, because just because no one in the blogsphere didn't write about it, that doesn't mean that it didnt effect other places, and maybe people saw it but felt it was no immportance to write about in the blogsphere, there are many people who may have "heard" that add, but chose not to write about it.


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