Tag Archives | Cool

Ambassador Program Turns Customers Into Salespeople

Few companies realize the value of their most passionate customers. They occasionally acknowledge them with frequent buyer programs or other discounts, but it’s rare for a company to really empower their customers to share their passion for the company and its products or services with others.

Most companies rely on salespeople to position the benefits of their products or services to potential customers. Good salespeople do this in a way that excites customers about the possibilities and potential of using what they’re selling, but their ‘passion’ for the product is motivated by the paycheck they get for selling it, not by the product itself.

However, if you give your passionate customers the tools they need to share their passion for your product or service with others, and reward them for doing so, you can create an army of great ‘salespeople’ who will do more for your company than any high paid salesperson ever could.

That’s the beauty of a well executed ambassador program. With a small investment in materials, it becomes a formalized, simplified, and easy to maintain word of mouth marketing campaign that the company itself can participate in.

Bose Curtosey Card

The Bose Courtesy Card set the standard for a well executed ambassador program. Customers who were using (and loving) their Quiet Comfort headphones while flying would get asked about them by other passengers, and instead of disrupting the quiet zone that the headphones created, the customer could simply hand the person a Courtesy Card and let them check out Bose on their own time.

It was simple and easy for the customer to do (not to mention unique and ‘cool’) and it also gave Bose control over the message that potential customers received.


If you think of sales as fishing for customers, then Bose provided the bait, and just asked that current customers set the hook. After the initial interaction, potential customers would come to Bose, and all Bose had to do was reel them in.

iPod Silhouette

The hype that Apple generated with their white headphones is well known, and an Ambassador Program is like a whole army of white headphone wearers, but ones who have been given the tools necessary to help convert that initial interest and opportunity into additional sales.

Surprisingly, I haven’t seen many companies follow in the footsteps of Bose, which is why I was intrigued by Foursquare’s announcement of their Ambassador Program.

Foursquare Ambassador Card

Foursquare users love the deals they get from participating venues, but venues can’t provide deals if they don’t know about the service, so Foursquare created the Ambassador Program to help users spread the word. As long as you’re a “creative and excited evangelist”, Foursquare will send you a pack of Foursquare Ambassador Cards that are custom-printed with your name on them for you to hand out to the businesses that you frequent. Assuming that the businesses use the cards to sign up, Foursquare says that “the businesses get details about their foot traffic and loyal customers, and you and your fellow foursquare users will see more Specials at your favorite places.”

With the Ambassador Cards, Foursquare rewards users by crediting them with the creation of the location, and users get additional rewards when their favorite locations sign up and start offering deals and discounts. It’s a win-win, and Foursquare is simply enabling and encouraging their most passionate users do the selling for them.

One of the main reasons businesses get involved in social media is that they want to support the word of mouth marketing that customers are doing online. With a well planned ambassador program, you can get those same benefits offline as well with a small investment in materials and a way to thank those customers who are out there doing your work for you.

Foursquare Ambassador Program

Coraline Raises The Bar For Influencer Outreach

Coraline Box

Wieden+Kennedy’s Coraline campaign is a textbook example of how to build buzz around a product using many different types of outreach.

Phase one was designed to activate online communities that have a reason to be passionate about this film in order to build a groundswell of support. Phase two was to create intrigue on a mass scale — introduce mysterious elements of the film that drive people to [the Coraline] website to learn more. Phase three was to create mass awareness for the film and it’s launch date.

In addition, W+K identified a guiding creative light for the campaign that “everything [they] do should reflect the unique, cool, handmade nature of this film. [They] believed that the more you knew about what went into it, the more you’d get out of it.” Though there are many aspects of the campaign that could be highlighted as examples of how to best do an outreach campaign, I’m going to focus specifically on their blogger outreach for this post.

Blogger Outreach falls under Part 1 of their strategy: Activate Influencers, and W+K knew that there were a lot of online communities that would be (or could be inspired to be) excited and eager to talk about Coraline. To narrow their focus, they began by identifying five separate influencer groups specifically, including Creators (Fans of Selick, Gaiman and anyone involved in the creation of the film.) Craft (Fans of the craft of filmmaking and especially the type used in this film.) Geeks (Comics, animation and collectibles geeks.) Culture (Folks who we knew would be excited about the themes/aesthetics of the film.) and Gamers (People in the video game world.)

Since those communities were already eager to talk about Coraline, W+K just needed to give them something to talk about, so they created 50 handcrafted boxes of movie ‘relics’ taken directly from the film. Each box was designed to link a specific part of the movie to a specific influencer’s passion, and each included a code that gave the influencer private access to an online mini-documentary that was made with them in mind.

Coraline Box 2

Rather than hype up the boxes and their contents though, W+K instead chose to keep things rather secretive, and let the boxes do the talking. On first contact, they simply asked the blogger if they wanted a “free gift” and requested their address. Once the boxes started to arrive however, bloggers quickly jumped at the chance to show off their free gifts, and posted details about each box on their site for the world to see. After a few boxes started to appear, it became a game to see who would get a box next and what it would contain, and a few sites even chronicled the arrival of each box, who had received it, and what the contents were. Had the boxes been equally unique but identical, this ‘game’ would not have occurred, but because each was so unique and so special, the Coraline fan base quickly grew, and then branched out from their first box encounter to other blogs in hopes of learning more about the film and its creative marketing.

Coraline Dunks

In addition to the boxes, W+K also used a variety of cutting edge tactics to promote the film, including street art that used garbage bags and subway wind to create inflatable characters that haunted the midnight streets of New York City, interactive storefronts that used augmented reality technology to place buttons over the eyes of passer-bys, customized Coraline Dunks that had the sneaker world buzzing, and more.

In all, it was a fantastic campaign for a fantastic film that kept the brand experience strong through out and resulted in a successful release of a film that could have been cast off as just another kid’s movie.

The Good:

  • Unique and customized boxes prompted almost everyone who received one to post the full details online and across numerous channels.
  • Very specific targets received different box contents in order to match their areas of interest.
  • Influencers were given exclusive access to additional content and encouraged to share that content with others.

The Bad:

  • I’m jealous I didn’t get one.

The Future:

  • Highly customized outreach matches influencers with their area of interest, and gives them valuable content that they are compelled to share.


Wieden+Kennedy – Coraline

Never Hide Films Are Viral Successes For Ray-Ban

Never Hide Films

UPDATE: On January 12, 2010, Ray-Ban released another video in their ‘Never Hide Films’ series showing a guy getting a pair of Wayfarer sunglasses tattooed on his face. (The video, called ‘Guy Has Glasses Tattooed On His Face’, is shown below.) Once again the video was picked up by a number of very popular blogs and sites, and quickly spread throughout the internet, fueled by ‘Real vs. Fake’ discussions (it’s fake) and amassing nearly 500,000 views in just two days. By keeping their finger on the pulse of what’s cool, unique and attention grabbing, Ray-Ban has turned their video series into a viral video factory, and now has the track record to prove it.

To help promote their line of sunglasses, Ray-Ban created a series of viral videos called Never Hide Films. With 11 total videos to date, they’ve seen multi-million view successes, and four-digit failures, so it’s an interesting look at what works well as an online viral video, and what doesn’t.

Their most recent video, released just two days ago, is called “Cow Gives Birth To A Dude”, and has already been viewed more than 150,000 times:

This video is pure shock and awe, and the pull-no-punches approach works well on a site like YouTube, where viewers have seen just about everything done a thousand times over and have become numb to even relatively shocking videos, so that it takes something truly unique to grab their attention. Part of this video’s success is due to the fact that Never Hide Films has an established channel on YouTube with more than 1,400 subscribers, but it’s also due in large part to the fact that when you view the video, you’re left with a feeling of “WTF?” (as evidenced by a majority of the comments left on the video saying just that) and you know that if you send it to a friend, they will have that same feeling as well. It becomes a tool that viewers can use to surprise and shock their friends, and they pass it along with that goal in mind.

The second video, and their most popular video to date, is called “Guy Catches Glasses With Face”, and has received nearly four million views in just over a year. What made this video a success was that it used an existing YouTube meme (amazing and unbelievable actions performed over and over again with an increasing difficulty, such as long basketball shots, tossing cans into a recycling bin from a long distance, or complicated and multi-step beer pong shots) but did so in a very fluid and believable way. This was also one of their first films, so it spurred a lot of discussion about whether or not the video was real or fake, and one YouTube user even posted an elaborate, shot by shot explanation of how the video was made:

Even after it was shown to be fake however, the quality and the uniqueness of the idea ensured that people continue to watch it and share it with others.

The third video was a sequel to the “Guy Catches Glasses With Face” video, called “Bobbing For Glasses”, and it’s a great example of how you can take the success from one video and transfer it into the next. The idea is very similar to the first video, as an amazing and unbelievable action is repeated over and over again, but this time, they were able to link their face catching video to the glasses bobbing video using YouTube’s built-in video reply feature, as well as their editable description area, thus sending anyone that was interested in the face catching video over to the glasses bobbing video as well.

Lastly, their second most popular video, called “Bikini Body Builder Vs. Rubik’s Cube” was a precursor to the cow video in that it was very much designed to shock and awe, relying on pure absurdity to draw in viewers. At just over a minute long, it’s also long enough to establish itself as a strange and unusual video that’s willing to really dive into a concept, but short enough to grab someone’s attention, reward them for watching the entire thing, and then move them on to the next video in the Never Hide Films series:

This video also shows the power of frequently used YouTube keywords, such as Bikini, Body Builder and Rubik’s Cube, as each of those topics has its own community of videos within YouTube that results in a lot of search traffic and tie-ins to related videos.

Though Ray-Ban’s Never Hide Films have not always been successes, they’re willing to take a risk and put unique and interesting content out there to see what sticks, and then once they have a success on their hands, they leverage that success to make their next video successful as well, thus continuing to virally grow their community.

The Good:

  • Unique and interesting videos draw in a large and varied audience.
  • Success from one video transfers to the next through built-in tools that YouTube provides.
  • Tapping into an existing meme ensures that the videos become part of an established group of popular content.
  • Shock-and-awe approach helps the videos stand out from the crowd.
  • Willingness to take a risk results in some videos that aren’t successful, but larger successes when a video does resonate well within the YouTube community.

The Bad:

  • Never Hide Films created their own Digg account to promote the films through that channel, but did not put enough time or effort into that account to make the submissions a success, resulting in a missed opportunity for additional views.
  • The videos are buried inside of Ray-Bans’ Flash website rather than being featured on their own URL, eliminating any social networking or social bookmarking potential.
  • Branding is too subtle and often goes unnoticed, as the videos could have featured a post-roll ad without a huge loss in authenticity once the initial ‘real or fake’ debates ended.
  • Low quality videos make it difficult to see many of the effects clearly.

The Future:

  • Viral videos push the boundaries of decency in an effort to stand out from the crowd, resulting in a series of hits and misses that need to be optimized once the community finds a video that it likes.