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Viral salads

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Sumo Salad made a big hit with its web video viral marketing campaign. Founder Luke Baylis tells JACQUI WALKER how it all came about.

By Jacqui Walker

Last December, franchised healthy fast food chain Sumo Salad launched a viral marketing campaign with a web video featuring a fat boy trying unsuccessfully to escape from the body of a thin man. See it here.

It was a dig at the McDonald’s “inner-child” campaign and an attempt to position Sumo Salad as a healthier alternative to McDonald’s. The campaign cost $20,000 and took less than a month to get together, but the response was huge.

SmartCompany asked co-founder Luke Baylis to explain his viral marketing strategy.

Luke Baylis

“Most of our viral campaigns are web-based. What we’re setting out to do is create a funny skit that shows what we are about as a brand, but which also has a strong reaction with the customer we are trying to target, — so they will pass it on to friends.

“If it doesn’t have the instant shock or laugh it doesn’t work as viral marketing.

“Viral marketing is a component of a larger strategy. We released the inner-child video in gyms, to cinemas, via public relations, and sent the clip to print media. The more you do that the more it adds to momentum of the viral campaign as well as increasing cut-through.

“Viral marketing is about reaching the mass market.”

How do you come up with your ideas?

“We look at relevant issues, things that we think are funny, or opportunities to take a dig at. We sit around a room – a marketing creative guy at Big River, our ad agency, my partner James and myself. That’s it. Sometimes our PR gets involved if it has mass-market appeal.

“From the idea, we figure out best media stream to launch it into. With our Krispy Kreme ambush a little while ago (that was more guerilla marketing than viral, although it worked out to be viral because people passed on the news articles and clips we took on the day).

“Then we generally send the email with the web video link to about 50 or 60 of our friends and they forward on and it gets momentum. We also put it up on MySpace and YouTube and MyProfile.

“We did that with the inner-child takeoff and it’s been very effective. MyProfile is what generated the most hits to our website and hits to where the content was uploaded.

“Generally, when the email gets to people involved in creative industries or advertising and office workers they will send it on. We’re giving a funny distraction to people who sit at their desks all day.”

How do measure whether the campaign has translated into sales?

“Honestly, it’s unquantifible. There are things on pure profile – a website that has user groups – where you can test your viral campaign on a fairly cost-effective basis and people get free product for forwarding it on. You can measure conversion sales there. But generally we know the response is good from anecdotal reports of people going into our stores and mentioning the ad.

“We know that more than 150,000 viewed the inner-child ad. It cost us $20,000 to produce so it’s very cost-effective advertising.

“There is a risk that the money is wasted, if people think it’s rubbish and don’t forward the video. That’s why it is so important that video has immediate appeal and is very clever.

“We are now in the process of developing another viral campaign. We are trying to target consumers in the male demographic. So it’s a different type of viral campaign. Still web-based, but not necessarily related to salad or food, but it creates a positive association with the brand in the minds of men.

“They are quick to produce; two weeks planning and one day to produce. The trick is to get the right idea. We test ideas by telling people and watching their responses. If they laugh, it’s a good idea.

“Now is the ideal time to do viral marketing because it’s still quite cool and reasonably new. So cut-through is good . But like anything, if the market becomes saturated with viral campaigns they will be perceived as a nuisance, and will be less effective.”

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