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Viral Hall of Fame 2009

Viral Hall of Fame 2009
Grasshopper's Chocolate Covered Grasshopper Mailing

MarketingSherpa Summary:
A corporate re-branding gave Grasshopper the opportunity to make a huge impression on its core audience of entrepreneurs and SMBs. The campaign featured a direct-mail piece few could ignore: A package of chocolate-covered grasshoppers that recipients were challenged to actually eat -- and record their daring feat via social networks. The stunt exploded on Twitter and blogs, and even landed the company eight TV news segments. Package recipients were also directed to an inspirational online video about the economic power of entrepreneurs (and links to how Grasshopper's virtual phone systems can help). The result: More than 200,000 video views, and a 93% increase in clicks to the "How it Works" section of the company's website.

Agency: None
Client/company: Grasshopper
Brand campaign was conducted for: Grasshopper
Launch date of campaign: May 4, 2009
Target audience/demographic: Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and "Buzz worthy" media/social media contacts

Campaign Goal:
The primary goal was to inspire entrepreneurs (or anyone for that matter) to get up, take action, and pursue something they have always been passionate about. The team also wanted to create general awareness for the "Grasshopper" brand as a brand for entrepreneurs, because they were re-branding from GotVMail to Grasshopper. Also, the recession made it a good time to motivate entrepreneurs, the people who have the power to create jobs and affect our economy.

A two-prong approach that combined direct mail and online video:

  • First came a physical mailing -- a total of 25,000 chocolate covered grasshoppers to a list of the 5,000 most influential people in America created by the company CEO over three months. They sent these via FedEx to increase the urgency, mystery, and make sure the package got to the person's desk.

  • The second part (URL included with the package) was an inspirational video called "Entrepreneurs Can Change the World." The goal of the video was to inspire entrepreneurship in anyone who sees it and to remind those who are already entrepreneurs why they started to begin with. Primary message: "Do you remember when you were a kid, and you thought anything was within your reach? It still is."

  • Seed Strategy:
    The 5,000 people targeted for the direct mail piece were chosen specifically due to their Buzz Worthiness. "We sent our 'controversial snack' to people we KNEW would talk, blog, and tweet about it," says Jonathan Kay, Ambassador of Buzz, Grasshopper.

    Then, the team listened, responded, and challenged there list of influential people. For example, during the first three weeks of the campaign they had five people, including founder David Hauser, constantly monitoring Twitter and personally responding to conversations about the campaign and challenging people to eat the chocolate-covered grasshoppers and take pictures/videos. The tactic helped compile a user-generated content and spread excitement.

    Buzz Generated:
    In the first month alone, the campaign received coverage in 119 different blogs. Other buzz:
    • More than 200,000 YouTube views
    • More than 170 unique blog posts/news articles
    • 2,959 company/campaign related tweets, including tweets from major influencers such as Guy Kawasaki
    • Eight mentions on national TV broadcasts (FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC)
    • 1,664 referrals from Facebook to the company website
    • More than 70 user generated videos/pictures.
    Sample articles:

    Many viewers also asked to use the video for conferences, award ceremonies, graduations, training programs, etc. Hyatt national HQ now uses the video as an opener in every manager training session across North America. More than 10 other organizations used the video to open entrepreneur conferences and/or awards ceremonies. The president of Babson College (the #1 entrepreneurial program in America) used the video in his commencement speech this year.

    Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
    In the first month using the name "Grasshopper," the campaign created more brand awareness than the team had achieved in six years using the name "GotVMail."
    • 93% increase in the number of people clicking the "How it Works" section of
    • 47,000 unique page views of the page that hosted the inspirational video and resources for entrepreneurs
    • 4,911% increase in the number of visitors from Twitter vs. previous month
    • 3,286% increase in the number of visitors from Facebook vs. previous month
    Biggest Lesson:
    While there isn't much we would have done differently, we definitely learned one small lesson. We sent out 5,000 packages to influential people, not potential customers who might sign up for our service. Our goal was not to increase sales, rather create buzz and awareness.

    However, we did send these Grasshoppers to a few hundred (out of 33,000 +) of our customers, which included businesses who have been with us since the beginning as we thought it would be fun to get them involved. This slightly backfired, as some customers reached out to us upset that they didn't get any chocolate covered grasshoppers. And frankly, this was not the point of the campaign, so while it was fun to get a few loyal, long-term customers involved I think next time we will probably leave them out.