It's not every day that guerilla marketing gets
replayed on ESPN over and over. Essentially, TaxBrain.com hired actors to fake
the theft of a race car and make it look real, so real that it inadvertently
aired as a real news story. Throw in the fact that they were targeting male
NASCAR fans (yes, there were women in bikinis in the video, too) and wave the
checkered flag, folks, because we have a winner. The effort received thousands of
YouTube views and easily topped $1 million in free television advertising for a
little-known tax-preparation site.
Agency: Napolitan Productions
Client/company: Petz Enterprises Inc.
Brand campaign was conducted for: TaxBrain.com
Launch date of campaign: Aug. 15, 2006
Target audience/demographic: Gen Y & NASCAR
The goal was to create off-season brand awareness for our new brand in a
market dominated by two industry giants -- Intuit and H&R Block.
Working with Napolitan Productions, we brainstormed for a couple of days and
concluded that our NASCAR racecar sponsorship had our branding, so we felt it
could be the centerpiece in a viral video. Research indicated that a NASCAR had
never been stolen by a racing fan, and since these fans truly are fanatical -- just
maybe a NASCAR could be stolen on lazy summer day at a small racetrack in
California. Helping us along this path was the release of the
movie 'Talledega Nights.' We hired real stuntmen, models and a
seasoned reality TV camera crew. We rented the local racetrack to rehearse,
clued in racetrack management of our plan, then the following Sunday at a live
racing event, the car was "stolen."
First, we posted a press release the day of the race (to confirm that we were at
the track but did not say anything about the "theft"). On Monday, we emailed our
affiliate channel, friends and families and posted to a humor forum and a couple
of NASCAR/auto-racing forums while simultaneously leaking a tape of the theft to
an ABC affiliate and posted the same video to YouTube and Google video.
It was huge and went nationwide in less than 24 hours landing on ESPN
Sportcenter that night (and repeated all night long) ... our then-16-year-old driver
was asked to appear on "Good Morning America" and Cold Pizza (we didn't
return the call) ... sports newsrooms around the country (and later the world)
tried to reach out to us. The next day, it crossed networks from ABC to all the
CBS affiliates and by Thursday it was running on Fox. Even CNN Sports
closed the Friday sportsdesk with our clip. AP acknowledged the feat.
Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
Results were immediate. We stopped buying hit reports after the first week and
by then we had amassed well over $1 million worth of free TV publicity in nearly
three-fourths of all DMAs. About a month later, NBC did a viral video segment on
the "Today Show" and used our clip to close. Other
racing teams have even licensed the video to use in their future marketing
opportunities. It has become the cornerstone of our affiliate marketing and a
centerpiece in building brand awareness for our affiliate program.
We'd probably do a micro-site with a niche domain name with additional branding
or messaging, possibly run it during tax season and answer the phone rather
than letting it go to voicemail.