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Viral Hall of Fame 2008

Viral Hall of Fame 2008
Liberty Fillmore, the Cart Whisperer

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Ask any eretailer: abandoned shopping carts are a challenge. And nobody cares more about that challenge than Liberty Fillmore, the Cart Whisperer. Internet infrastructure provider VeriSign created a series of fun videos featuring the fictitious Liberty Fillmore, who teaches that website shopping cart abandonment is preventable. The campaign included submissions to YouTube, a MySpace page, a Facebook page and a website for Fillmore's poetry, videos and contest. The videos delivered a heap of blog coverage and more than three million views on YouTube.

Agency: McCann Erickson
Client/company: VeriSign
Brand campaign was conducted for: Extended Validation SSL (site security for shopping)
Launch date of campaign: Feb. 25, 2008
Target audience/demographic: IT retail

Campaign Goal:
Create awareness of how visible site security can prevent online shopping cart abandonment, essentially rescuing carts. Additionally, we wanted to connect the ubiquitous image of physical abandoned shopping carts to virtual carts.

A character, Liberty Fillmore the Cart Whisperer, was created to help tell the unique story of shopping cart abandonment. Through a series of viral videos, traffic was driven to a site that Fillmore created himself (with some help from a tech-savvy cousin). There, users could do the following: watch the videos, browse and submit (UGC) photos to the album, learn about Fillmore, read his poetry, enter a contest by finding a nomadic shopping cart on the site (its whereabouts changed every day), link to his MySpace and Facebook pages and learn about his sponsors who are helping to save online shopping carts.

Seed Strategy:
The campaign launched by seeding the video on YouTube and in media player applications and widgets on Facebook pages and various blogs. Additionally, a teaser video banner ran on sites to drive our core target audience to the campaign.

Buzz Generated:
Thanks to excellent coverage in the blogosphere, site traffic is sustaining itself without new videos, seeding or paid media. An abbreviated list of quality mentions:

Aquila Online: The cart whisperer:

Spark Effect: and VeriSign try a little subtlety:

AdRants: Abandoned carts have feelings too. Also, they talk. Also, this guy's INSANE:

The Buzz and Viral Marketing: The Cart Whisperer:

Cutting Digital Teeth: The Cart Whisperer:

Viral Blog: Viral Friday: Food Fight:

Nobody Asked...: The Cart Whisperer…:

iMarketer Blog: The Cart Whisperer: A YouTube case study:

Future Now: The fight against shopping cart abandonment:

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
So far, the videos have been viewed collectively almost 3.3 million times on YouTube alone (seeding was done at the top 12 video sites). The site has seen 88,804 unique visitors with the average site visit growing over time to 4:13. The photo album continues to be the most popular section of the site. Users have submitted 61 photos to date.

The Shopping Cart Evolution video outpaced the launch video. Results were almost instant. Site traffic took a considerable dip without any paid seeding or traditional banners, but it is now rebounding on its own.

Biggest Lesson:
YouTube views do not equal site visitors. We knew this going in, but wanted to close the gap over time. We played with various calls to action at the end of the videos and saw an increase. If we were back at square one, we would have launched three videos - one every four days for 12 days to try and monopolize two weeks and a month of the Most Viewed categories. Viral success is so fleeting, and that means your launch has to sustain its momentum, at least for longer than two days on YouTube.

Surprise: How eagerly viewers welcomed a whacky campaign from a brand that's known to be staid and conservative.