August 20, 2008
How To

'Pimped-Out' Microsite Triggers Viral Explosion: Accounts Double; Sales Leap

SUMMARY: An intriguing marketing campaign can explode virally even when that’s not the intent. It goes to show you that content can still be king when it comes to grabbing attention.

Find out how a marketer created awareness around the world with an edgy campaign intended for a local market. Monthly sales jumped 80%, and the number of company accounts doubled.

Sometimes a local marketing campaign is so good it won’t stay put. The media grabs it and awareness spreads virally. Orders begin pouring in from across the country – even if that wasn’t the plan.

Brian Brett, Marketing Manager, MasterLift, and his team faced that happy dilemma. They created an awareness campaign for the forklift company’s Greater Toronto market. A single press release describing the campaign eventually garnered press coverage and viral buzz from as far away as Dubai.

The campaign targeted forklift operators – key influencers on warehouse purchasing decisions – with an interactive microsite called PimpMyLift. The site invited operators to “pimp out” a digital forklift with chrome rims, custom paint, accessories and attractive models.

“It became a spoof of those calendars that you find in garages all over the place where you see hot women posing in front of cars,” Brett says. “You would never expect to see that with a forklift in the background. It becomes humorous above everything else.”

The campaign launched in May 2007 and exploded, carrying PimpMyLift across Canada and into the U.S. and beyond to places like the Netherlands and Australia. Sales vaulted 80% in May 2007 compared to a year earlier and accounts at MasterLift have doubled, Brett says.

Find out how Brett and his team designed and promoted the site.

The Microsite Design

Brett and his team targeted forklift operators – a group usually ignored by industry marketing, he says. Operators are typically men with respect for machinery. With that in mind, he set out to construct a site that “sort of mimics what the automotive sites have” with customizable forklift parts instead of car parts.

The site’s components:

-> Landing page
Visitors are greeted by a forklift crawling with enticing models and a short description: “Customize your forklift. Create the baddest lift on the warehouse floor for your chance to win monthly prizes.”

After visitors click through, they’re presented with a dialog box that gives three options:
o View MasterLift’s online show ForkedUp
o Register to win prizes for best lift design
o Design a lift without registering

Only registered users can display forklifts in the gallery and win prizes.

-> Customizing a lift
Visitors can choose among these details for their forklift:
o Paint job and decals
o Rims, spoilers, exhaust, pedals and shifters
o Background
o Accompanying model

->Gallery and contest
Registered visitors display their forklifts in the gallery to be voted on by the community. The lift with the most votes at the end of each month wins a prize. Prizes range from PimpMyLift branded clothing to a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

This area is divided into four sections where visitors can:
o Download branded desktop backgrounds
o Enter promotional codes
o View the current “operator of the month,” and submit a nomination
o View images of models and real customized forklifts

The store sells branded T-shirts, sweatpants and hats. Brett does not expect apparel to generate much revenue, but he has been surprised by the response. A press release for the store’s launch generated more media coverage, he says.

->Customizable sound
Visitors can choose from four options:
o Hip-hop
o Techno
o Rock
o No sound

The default is set to a pimp-themed hip-hop song that adds to the humor.

->Links to the homepage
The last link in the top navigation bar is to MasterLift’s homepage where visitors can check out real customized forklifts for sale.

Building and Promoting the Shop

Brett knew how he wanted the microsite to work and what features he needed because of his familiarity with automotive websites. Here’s how the components were created.

->Site ingredients

o Custom designs
The chrome rims, paint jobs, shifters and backgrounds were all designed by Brett and his team. They created the digital files and saved them to hand to a page developer.

o Model photos
Stock photos of models sitting on forklifts at a consistent angle were hard to find, Brett says. So, he hired a photographer and about a dozen models for two photo shoots in a company warehouse. Photos show them in profile and sitting on a forklift.

o Professional design
Brett paid about $5,500 for a developer to spend two months crafting a well-designed microsite with plenty of interactivity built in. It also collects data from visitors and has a commerce section.


Promotion consisted of the following:
o Press releases on:
-Site’s launch
-Apparel store’s launch
-ForkedUp page’s launch
o Billboards in Greater Toronto
o Print newspaper ads
o Wraps on service vans

The wraps on the service vans drew the attention of people used to seeing a truck pull up with very conservative messaging – not a forklift with a model sitting on it, Brett says.


The historical definition of “pimp” did not generate any negative press, Brett says. One news outlet did write a story analyzing how the definition of pimp has evolved over time, using PimpMyLift as a modern example.

-> Across the globe

“We’ve been featured in newspapers, on TV and online from The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Australia. Here in Canada, we’ve been featured in two national newspapers and two national television outlets. I would estimate that about 90 percent of Web visitors learned about PimpMyLift from press coverage,” Brett says.

->Unintended consequences

The campaign’s objective was to create awareness. But about 5% of visitors to the site are converted into buyers, Brett says.

Useful Links Related to This Article:

PimpMyLift Creative Samples PimpMyLift Coverage PimpMyLift Coverage

How Microsite & Video Lift Consumer Leads 13.54% for Home Builder

PimpMyLift (turn your sound down)

MasterLift Forklifts

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