I love marketing. I should, it’s my job. But for a long time I’ve been fascinated with the unique and creative methods companies employ to get their message out to the masses. And in today’s marketplace, where consumers are becoming more and more media savvy (and numb to advertising messages), it’s requiring unprecedented levels of creativity to get that message across to potential buyers.
As a result, I find myself skeptical of everything.
Case in point.
By now you’ve probably seen news reports of the girl who received the 300-page iPhone/AT&T bill in the mail. Her name is Justine Ezarik, a graphic designer and blogger from Pittsburgh, PA. She was so surprised by the sheer bulk of the statement that she posted a video blog about it. It spread rapidly around the web and next thing you know the video has generated hundreds of thousands of views and she’s on every news network in the country.
I smell a “guerilla marketing” campaign.
It could be the way Justine just happens to be super-pretty. It could be way the video looks “bloggish” but yet nearly professional (i.e., lonleygirl15). Or it could just be me wondering why this type of thing has never happened to a single AT&T customer that we’ve heard of to this point (remember, it’s not an iPhone issue it’s an AT&T wireless billing issue). But whatever it is, my spidey-sense is tingling!
Now why would a company plant a mole that gives them seemingly bad pub? The answer could lie in the profitability.
Sending billing statements to customers each month costs money. Lots of it. Sending millions of billing statements each month costs lots, and lots of money.
However, cooking up a guerilla marketing campaign with an over-the-top story that spreads the “use e-billing” message like wildfire – both virally on sites like YouTube and through news media outlets that are either being duped or in on it – is virtually free. The more people that switch to e-billing, the more dollars AT&T saves. Which increases their profitability.
More and more companies are looking to spend less while getting their message to an ever-increasing audience in new and creative ways. That’s what I think might be going on here. Mind you, it’s just a theory. I could be wrong. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.