This Summer e-tractions, an Internet marketing campaign company, wanted to get more clients, prove their interactive ads really work, and generate serious buzz from the almost buzzed-out press corp covering the i-ad industry. VP Sales & Marketing (Mr.) Kim Shah shared the details with us.CAMPAIGN
e-tractions, together with their PR firm Sterling Hager, decided to create a viral marketing campaign that struck a chord in the heart of every member of the press on this planet -- the Whack-a-Flack game.
Whack-a-Flack is an interactive gaming site where after registering visitors can "whack" an annoying cast of cartooned PR pros with paper airplanes made out of press releases. They pop up from their desk, you whack them. They scuttle on their hands and feet across the floor, you whack them. You get the picture.
To promote the game, e-tractions staff sent out just 150 emails to selected addresses on July 27th.
Within two weeks of the game's launch, it was already becoming so popular in the journalism community that our sibling newsletter ContentBiz.com issued a warning, "Media companies, if you’re smart you’ll ban this site from your corporate servers or deadlines will go a-missing!"
By October, the game had garnered mentions in more than a dozen high profile pubs, including PR Week, the San Jose Mercury News, iMarketing News and The New York Times. The initial 11 weeks of the campaign yielded more than 37,000 visits and 13,000 registrations.
But beyond buzz, how much business did the campaign actually bring in? Shah says, "In terms of qualified sales leads, we received about 1,500 leads from potential customers and partners. We just sent a follow-up email to this list and will be able to report actual sales at a later date." At which point, MarketingtoWebMarketers.com will bring them to you!
COST: As all too many interactive agencies know, lots of clients want to do viral campaigns because the perception is that they are basically free. Why pop for banners or email when you can spend nothing at all? So we questioned Shah on what the real costs of the campaign were. He said the game site itself took "roughly 400 man-hours to build. For a client the production costs of something like WAF would be in the region of $30-50K." Plus, bear in mind hosting and supportive PR are not included in that price tag. It's not an extraordinary expense, but hardly free (unless of course you happen to own the agency.)
[Addenda: On 10/24/2002 e-tractions President Michael Gauthier gave us the latest results figures -- yes the game is still running! Here they are:
"1. 2 years later we still get an average of 50 unique visitors each and every day like clockwork
2. There have been a total of 127,804 visits to the site as of today 3. This represents 96,483 unique visitors
4. 44,519 uniques have registered and played giving us a 46% conversion rate (visitors who register)
5. 12,279 people have come multiple times
6. On average, it takes about 4 minutes to play so we're proud to say we've removed over 500,000 minutes of productivity from the global workforce.
In addition, we've gotten articles on WAF from over 20 publications from NYT to South China Post. Whacking PR has been the best PR we've ever done."