Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A video I love and why: Cheeseball marketing edition

Inside Tim's Head is the very good blog of Tim Nekritz, associate director of public affairs at SUNY Oswego, who's asked his readers to blog about "A video I love and why."  And while there are plenty of videos that have made me laugh, cry, gaze in wonderment and spend entirely too much time on the web, I'm going to step up and offer the cheeseball marketing edition of this meme and nominate one of the first "Will It Blend?" Blendtec videos, in which 50 marbles were ground up in a blender.  This one dates from the wayback time in online video, October 2006, and was among the first of Blendtec's forays into online video:

Why do I love it? So much cheeseball marketing goodness--and lessons we can all still learn from, that's why:

  1. Getting a great video online can be cheap and simple to do:  I see too many clients get tied up in knots over production values, creating a studio and storyboarding ideas when they begin work in online video. It's a bit like building the pyramids when you just want a place to stand in the shade--a cheap umbrella or awning would do to start.  Blendtec spent all of $50 to make the first five videos, this one among them. (The $50 went toward "a white lab coat, the URL and a selection of items to be blended, including a garden rake, a rotisserie chicken and a Big Mac Extra Value meal," according to the Inc. magazine article.  Marketing director George Wright now calls it the best $50 he every spent.
  2. Content that leads to sharing is all about the awesome:  I have lots of science writing and communications colleagues who've read about the research noting that the most-shared-by-email articles in the New York Times are those that inspire a sense of awe among readers.  When I heard those findings, I wasn't thinking about the Higgs boson, but "Will It Blend?", frankly.  George Wright got the idea for the videos by recognizing just that factor: "One day I walked by the lab, and Tom was testing some changes he'd made to the blender by shoving a 2x2 wood board into it. There was sawdust and wood shavings everywhere....I thought, This isn't normal, but it's awesome."  If we all posted video of the things we stumble across that evoke that reaction, no one would go outdoors again, so good would the viewing be. I want to go get my secret decoder ring, sit in front of the computer and watch these forever: They reduce me (and everyone else) to excited kids who want to know just how the heck the blender did that.
  3. A good ole cheeseball funny bone:  Here, now, is a company and CEO that are not afraid to have some fun, on a few levels. Cheese-o-rama game show music. A "stupid pet tricks" approach.  The jovial CEO/engineer who likes to play in the lab and ask "Will it blend?" The "Yes! It blends!" victorious message at the end. The "don't do this at home" category of videos. And whoever had the idea to blend the iPhone when it first came out surely could guess how much fun we Android fans would have with that one.
  4. No sales pitch:  Sure, you can find links to products on the site--and sales of Blendtec's home products have grown more than 700 percent.  But you won't hear the CEO sell it to you on these videos.  The light touch is welcome, lets the fun stay fun, and encourages more sharing.
  5. Universal staying power:  The first five Blendtec videos got 6 million views in five days.  This particular video, now four years old, is up to 4.7 million views on its own, thanks to cross-posting on YouTube and the Will It Blend? site built just to house the video collection. Most of the videos in this series are evergreen. You can come across them in any year, for the most part, and still find them fun to watch.
  6. A willingness to try:  Blendtec had no advertising budget when it tried these videos, just referral business, particularly for its home products. YouTube had only been founded 21 months earlier, and was not the powerhouse of social media it is today. The CEO reports he said "Who Tube?" when the marketing director pitched the idea--but the guy who was willing to put a 2x4 into a blender also was willing to trust his marketing director with the $50 idea.  The rest is history, great viewing, and genius marketing--none of which would have happened without the willingness to try.
There's one more great thing about this video: I use it all the time when clients and audiences tell me that online video is too costly, elaborate, complex or difficult, or that the metrics aren't useful or there's no ROI on video and social media.  (I also know that they won't be able to resist cruising this site once they get to it.)  This Blendtec video is a fabulous cheeseball way to make anyone appreciate what online video can do.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for joining the challenge and the shout-out! This (and all the Will It Blend episodes) is a great video, high on the "awesome" factor as you put it. I also teach an advertising/media copywriting course and this is a very effective sales technique ... but, by being fun, also brands the company well.

Andrew said...

What a great example! I, too, use one or two examples from the "Will It Blend?" videos when talking about how inexpensive an effective video production can be. Good choice for this challenge.