I Rest My Case

August 13, 2009

I just went back and looked at Jack in the Box’s viral campaign from earlier this year thanks to Christa’s comment yesterday. All I can say is: I rest my case…

What’s not to love?

I visited http://www.hangintherejack.com about Jack’s being hit by a bus and his subsequent recovery. I know it may sound perverse, but I confess, I found it hilarious. I especially loved the attempted corporate takeover by his #2 guy-Phil-who wants to change the company name to Phil in the Box.

If you haven’t seen it yet, curl up with your laptop when you have a few minutes…highlights for me included the X-ray of Jack’s giant head and the priceless double entendre referencing Jack’s “massive head trauma,” a play on words Jack fans of all ages can enjoy.

Christa points out that experts differed on the campaign’s ROI, which I think underscores both the necessity of trying to measure results and the difficulty of doing so. As you might know, I feel strongly about evaluating marketing initiatives. My what-I-have-learned-about-restaurant-marketing Lesson #3 is, “Never confuse effort with results.” And while I think it is critical to measure results, I think measuring new media by old measuring devices may be problematic.

  • The one important aspect in traditional advertising is the residual effect of the advertising. How does the level of customer engagement and connection of a viral effort of this kind compare to the residual effect of seeing a 30-second television spot? I think we are just now beginning to understand this kind of thing for viral efforts of this type.
  • Establishing a baseline, refining it and building on success is the approach that will give companies the experience and expertise to develop viral campaigns that do move the needle.
  • The years and years of measuring and refining the use of television advertising…both the medium and the message…have raised it from guesswork to a pretty reliable workhorse.
  • I think the same thing will happen with viral campaigns as marketers develop best practices.

Clearly, this campaign underscores my belief that if you want to get people to talk about you, you have to give them something to talk about…

I’m still talking about it.

But, I think content is something of a double-edged sword relative to viral marketing…how do marketers make the content compelling without being contrived. Consumers have become inured to contrived messages, no matter how clever they may be. That’s part of what is so compelling about live TV or NASCAR or American Idol or ordering the off-menu chef special or “Reality TV”…it’s unpredictable, fresh, new, a little out of control and maybe even participative. That’s the cool thing about it and people are drawn to the “cool” factor. What’s the return on that investment?

Until next time, let me know your thoughts.