Tag Archives | Hype

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

Dunlop Loops Its Way To Video Success

Dunlop Loop-the-Loop

Tire ads aren’t known for being fun or sexy, and usually rely on safety stats and a general feeling of ‘that tire won’t explode while I’m driving’ to motivate you to buy. It doesn’t have to be that way however, and Dunlop’s recent campaign is just one example of what’s possible. In their spot, they take an unconventional approach to tire advertising, and highlight the fact that, while tires aren’t typically sexy, the cars that use them sure can be.

In the ad, a stunt driver named Steve Truglia in a Dunlop equipped Toyota Yaris navigates up, over and through a 40 foot loop-the-loop, setting a new world record for the largest loop ever performed by a four wheeled vehicle, and proving that Dunlop tires can easily handle the stresses of a 6-G maneuver along the way. While the video itself is impressive, it’s what they did to hype the video and build buzz around the campaign that got my attention.

Countdown Timer

For starters, Dunlop used the often cliché but generally effective countdown timer to tease the event, both creating a sense of anticipation, and giving viewers a firm date and time to come back and see the stunt. That way, anyone that was intrigued by the teaser videos and wanted to see more would know when to check back, and Dunlop could prevent the frustration that comes with seeing 80% of a concept, and then missing out on the final (and more interesting) 20%. Plus, as long as the teaser videos were good, the timer guaranteed that the main video would receive a bunch of additional views when it first debuted, ensuring that the start would go off with a bang, and that pass-along would occur from the very beginning, which is important when you want a video to go viral.

Though social media support was limited, Dunlop did open a DunlopLoop Twitter Account specifically for the campaign, and posted regular updates to that account in addition to their main site. At this point, a Twitter account is almost a mandatory inclusion for any interactive/online ad campaign, but it was good to see that it wasn’t neglected in this case, and was executed well. The account posted updates and replied to any reactions, and while the response wasn’t great, it was good bang-for-the-buck, and showed that Dunlop cared about influential viewers who are willing to share the video (and their opinion) with others.

To add to the credibility of the event, and to tie the campaign to a group of target-specific celebrities, Dunlop also teamed up with the British automotive show Fifth Gear to create the concept. By doing this, they were able to use the personalities from the show to build buzz and tap into a pre-existing audience for a guaranteed number of viewers that would watch the video regardless of additional support. Too often, endorsements and partnerships end once the cameras start rolling, but when everyone and everything has its own on-line fan club, it’s important for companies to realize that they need to tap into those communities and make the cross-promotion a part of the deal.

Beyond the stunt and the videos that went along with it, the campaign was kept to a minimum, but that doesn’t mean there was a shortage of ideas for how to increase the exposure and extended the campaign into additional channels. For one, they could have followed BMW’s lead with the Rampenfest campaign and created a Facebook Page to generate buzz around the stunt and increase the “Real or Fake?” debate. Secondly, they could have created an advergame to allow viewers to attempt their own stunt in a Dunlop branded car. Lastly, they could have done a ‘remix you own ad’ style campaign where viewers are given a number of camera angles and clips of the stunt and the ability to stitch them together in any way that they liked, and then the winning edit is shown on TV.

For a small video campaign however, the Dunlop Loop-the-Loop was a smart and solid idea that managed to do a lot with a little, and made tires a hot topic on a large number of blogs, which is no easy task.

The Good:

  • Uses a world record to draw in viewers and create a spectacle.
  • Demonstrates a very boring product in a very exciting way.
  • Used a countdown timer effectively to build buzz.

The Bad:

  • Campaign wasn’t extended into other social media channels.

The Future:

  • Stunts allow boring brands to entertain viewers and make their products exciting while still showing features and benefits and driving sales.

Dunlop – Loop-the-Loop

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