Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ad Strategy: Easter Eggs

Over the last year, there's been this low-level debate, pitting traditional advertising vs. word-of-mouth. The debate was driven to a nice, healthy fever pitch by WOMMA, with their event last year (and ensuing blog). But at that event, the conclusion was clear that the there's no real conflict between ads and WOM. In fact, they probably work best when considered.

There's a great example of this on AdAge, profiling a Swiss campaign for Parisienne cigarettes. A fairly simple idea really: the brand launched a series of billboards announcing a new look for the brand. Then, three days later, the billboards were repainted by brand reps as well as a bunch of consumers. The brand got a double-dose of awareness and exposure: the first communication and then an extra, surprise shot. The first was as traditional as you can get. The second, more buzz-able.

This reminds me of the practice among software developers (especially of games) of developing Easter Eggs: hidden features that are unlocked if you perform some complex set of moves. For example, follow these rules to play an auto racing game in Excel. The idea is to provide those who are already using your product (or: viewing your ad, are aware of your product) an extra bit of value and a new reason to look again at something that may have become an accepted part of the consumer's world.
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