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Viral Hall of Fame 2007

Viral Hall of Fame 2007
#10. Fox's 'American Dad' DVD

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Friend-to-friend is nice, but connecting with international audiences of like-minded interests is truly how efforts go viral. Fox used this concept when they ran the unusual online game American Dad vs Family Guy Kung Fu to promote the release of 'American Dad Vol. 1' on DVD. The game got picked up by humor sites and gaming blogs, but most of the buzz spread through the shows' fan sites and blogs around the world.

Agency: Fuel Industries
Client/company: Fox Home Entertainment
Brand campaign was conducted for: 'American Dad Volume One' DVD
Launch date of campaign: April 2006
Target audience/demographic: Teen/college men

Campaign Goal:
Fox challenged us to create an interactive online game to promote the release of 'American Dad Volume One,' another series from the creator of 'The Family Guy.'

The project had to appeal to the key audience: males, skewing toward college age. Key to accomplishing our goal would be maintaining the humor of the show. Since 'The Family Guy' and 'American Dad' share the same audience, but 'Family Guy' has a more established fan base and stronger reputation for off-color hilarity, we used a halo effect to leveraging 'Family Guy's success in promoting the sister show.

Fuel Industries developed a Flash fighting game, pitting family members from both shows against one another in a parody of the dozens of arcade and console fighting games that young men everywhere have enjoyed for years. Taking the idea all the way, we got Capcom to lend us Ryu, the fighting star of Street Fighter, as the final boss.

Animated at 31 frames per second -- television quality -- with humorous audio lifts from the shows, the game feels like stepping into the shows themselves. Fighting moves included dozens of show and pop culture references, including Peter's famous vomiting episode, Chris' absolute incapacity for everything and Stan's patriotism (he kills with an American flag). The games are made even more immersive by nine fighting environments, including a black-and-white boxing ring, a miniature, destroyed Tokyo that gets darker as night falls and even a reference to one of the most epic sci-fi battles ever.

Tracking included number of game plays, unique visitors and the number of visitors who were directed to the Fox store to purchase a DVD after playing the game.

Seed Strategy:
No supporting media buys were made to promote the game. Since both programs have a very loyal fan base, the game was seeded in a number of major community fan sites, as well as "fun & games" aggregators that the target audience enjoys online.

Buzz Generated:
A Google search for "American Dad vs Family Guy Kung Fu" results in 456,000 hits. The game was picked up by humor sites, gaming blogs and the advertising industry, but most of the buzz spread through the show's fan sites and blogs all over the world.

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
In the first month after the official launch of the game, more than 2,800,000 players tested their mettle in American Dad vs Family Guy Kung Fu for a cumulative waste of over 66 years of college kids time that could have been spent studying.

To date, the game has received more than 8 million visitors and an average immersion time of more than 12 minutes. Although hard conversion numbers are confidential, a significant percentage of visitors purchased 'American Dad' and 'Family Guy' DVDs from the site.

Biggest Learning:
We learned that huge traffic isn't generated by sending from friend to friend to friend. Humorous viral campaigns that are worthy of buzz drive most of their traffic from blogs, online message boards and content aggregators. One friend can send to perhaps five, maybe 10 others -- while a single consumer managed site can drive thousands upon thousands of visits to a promotional site. One fan took a video capture of himself playing ADFG and posted it on his blog, where it received 150,000 views. That surprised us.