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September 2007


Martin Calle

Hi Laura,
I'm in fine fighting spirits today so came by for a visit. Just had a bout of road rage in the office so I hope you don't mind if I blow off some steam. Did I say nice blog by the way?

Like I said last time, I like your blog because your posts stimulate. I look at the posts of Felipe above and say "congratulations." What worked? But all to soon, many of your fellow marketers looking for the quick fix will want to copy it for themselves. Then I come to Jay's post and think.

"What is a brand?" For your definition will determine your viral effort's success. To me, after all these years on Madison Avenue, and in Cincinnati, or Purchase, NY or Camden, NJ...etc. I have come to realize that a brand is really nothing more than something that somebody started that caught on. And viral marketing can't goose that.

Jay says that marketing is about generating awareness and recognition, but that's today's watered down definition of what marketing is all about. Back in the day, marketing was about sales. But today, if you talk about sales to a marketer at a company like Kraft, that young gun will all too quickly "point to that department over there." That's sales. And they never stop to realize that "awareness" and "recognition" is just agency-speak for "if you throw enough stuff against the wall some of it might stick." Agencies are into that shotgun approach because it eats up gobs of GRPs, and if you don't eat enough GRPs, well, if the campaign didn't work, it's not our fault.

I doubt if today's young guns are students of Rooser Reeves, master of the unique selling proposition. It may not be his, but M&M's "they melt in your mouth not in your hands" was selling.

And few do the homework today to define their product's Special User Effect. As Rush Limbaugh would say, the drive by marketers don't have the time for that.

A client once asked Rosser why he had 47 employees working on his account. He said that they were there to stop his people from changing the campaign. But if you really want to figure out your brand, look at it as if you are the new products brand manager. Why? Because a new products brand manager is a brand manager without a brand. He or she has to invent a popular brand to keep their job, then they pass it on to someone else to manage.

If you happen to manage a brand that someone started that caught on, good for you. Add viral into the mix ASAP while it's still ramping up. Make sure it's fun. Geico's cavemen even got their own TV show. But if your brand is stalled at the starting line or flat, viral can't give it the push you'll need to kick start the engine. For that you'll need positioning.

Speed is expensive. Positioning is the highest octane fuel. How fast do you want to go?

Whew! I feel better already. - Martin

Felipe Sahli

I am from Santiago, Chile. I work in the largest travel agency of Chile.
I would like to share our experience of viral marketing. Was very successful, and very align with the strategy and the brand building. http://www.cochahotels.cl
It wasn't funny but very interesting and creative. (It is in Spanish but you will understand)
For each person that received the email, he or she re-sent it to an average of 4.8 friends. So we more than double our database in 2 month and complete a lot of fields.
Laura: What do you think about it?

Jay Godse

You say, "The premise of viral marketing is that people will enjoy an advertisement so much they will not only watch it but be willing to pass it along to several other people they know"

Marketing is about building product and brand awareness, not ad awareness. So the definition of viral marketing should be something like, "...people will enjoy a product so much they will not only use it but be willing to tell several other people they know how great it is."

When this real definition of viral marketing is forgotten, you get funny ads that don't build product awareness or brand awareness. They are great for the advertisers & marketers because they build awareness of the brand and services of the advertisers & marketers that create these ads. Better yet (for them), it is done on the nickel of the product owner.


the internet has created great marketing opportunities...but unfortunately,and like anything else,the downsides are also considerable...getting to consumers mind is now more difficult and establishing credibility and trust is even a tougher job..and the reason for that is that the consumer
is becoming very much aware of PR methods used to get them talking...and win their trust...the
hidden sponsorship deals...the gifts.. and so on
in return for that article...the endorsements or a segment on TV...the consumer is becoming
aware of PR ways to penetrate there
mental defenses...so they are approaching most media forms...especially the free ones
with greater
suspicion...marketing is a constant struggle to get into the mind of the consumer and establish and maintain a positive perception of a product or a service....establishing
a reputation is hard
work and it takes time...but I believe is the only way to real marketing success and not gimmicks...and let me tell you that most of the indirect marketing methods make us feel we are being manipulated ..which then lead into resentment and distrust.

Eddie Baki

I think a lot depends o the ad itself. Is it a cheap ad that loses its flavor quickly or is it something clever. I recall that at around 2002 BMW did a clever move with bmwfilms.com. They created a platform for short movies, that had to include a BMW. The movies as far as I can recollect went viral. Directors could submit their own movies. How many extra sales BMW made through this I cannot say, but I am quite sure it did the brand BMW some good, ie here I am talking about it :-)

Viral campaigns see speed of transmission as critical, yet in my opinion it is the durability of the message and brand that is critical, ie how long the message is sustained in memory. Word of mouth is not as fast as viral, but more durable.


Hi Laura,
The new look is very nice.. This is something about India. Here, we get lot of such e-mails from banks ( for credit cards, loans and such schemes), matrimonials, consumer electronics and such. As usual, most of them goes to trash without reading and now...mobile also has become a marketing medium through short messages and voice over services!..but as usual, consumers find it impersonal, boring and less informative!


While I think that what you said is true in USA and other developed countries, I think you should be careful with promoting this idea in underdeveloped ones.

In these countries where there are only a handful of channels and people are just getting cable, I believe advertising still has a powerful effect, just like it had decades ago in USA. People there prefer buying products they've seen on TV, not the ones they've never heard about. Also PR campaigns are much harder to build.

The new look is very nice.It reminds me of the www.ries.com site.

Ben Bacon

First things first: I love the new look. Secondly, I think your blog hits a very sensitive subject (one that needed to be tapped).

Godin-ites gather, praising the almighty Seth and his viral marketing ideas. They are indeed great ideas.

But what gets so frequently missed by so many is the need for a new category–a buzz-worthy first.

Who was first in oversized tennis racquets? Why, that would be Prince. And publicity followed. And the viral marketing naturally followed that.

Boring products and services cannot be dressed up with zesty creative and made instantly buzzy. Why, if I do declare, that's like trying to put lipstick on a pig (yeah, I know that the reference is overused).

Thanks as always, Laura. Keep 'em comin'!

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