How Grasshopper Used Buzz Marketing (and Chocolate-Covered Insects) to Generate Massive Publicity
In May 2009, Grasshopper, a digital phone system for entrepreneurs formerly known as GotVMail, was in the process of rebranding and wanted to create some buzz about their business in the process.
To do so, they decided to borrow one of the buzz marketing principles from Mark Hughes’s book: Buzzmarketing. The book identifies the following six buttons that can be used to get people talking about your brand:
1. The unusual
2. The remarkable
3. The outrageous
4. The taboo
5. The hilarious
6. Secrets (both kept and revealed)
Grasshopper decided to push the outrageous button, which can be one of the more difficult buttons to push.
What outrageous thing did they do?
They sent out 25,000 chocolate-covered grasshoppers (yes, real grasshoppers) to 5,000 of the most influential people in North America, including politicians, business leaders, journalists, authors, and bloggers. The copy on the packaging appealed to the risk-taking spirit of entrepreneurs, encouraging recipients to take a risk and try a chocolate-covered grasshopper. There was no letter inside the package, so recipients had to read the hangtag to find out what this was all about. On the hangtag was the URL of a landing page featuring an inspiring motion-graphic video that Grasshopper had produced about the power of entrepreneurship. The video was also uploaded to YouTube.
The goal of Grasshopper’s campaign was to send something outrageous to get people talking about their brand while also sending something that reinforced their new brand and directed people to a landing page that explained the value proposition that Grasshopper empowers entrepreneurs for success.
First, the motion-graphic video, which cost $18,708 to produce, started going viral, with over 8,000 views per day at its peak. To date, the video has had over 950,000 views on YouTube.
Influencers like Guy Kawasaki and Kevin Rose tweeted about the effectiveness of the promotion, reaching around 875,000 followers. This of course was retweeted by countless other followers, generating even more buzz.
In addition, Grasshopper received hundreds of pictures and videos of people eating the grasshoppers and attempting to convince others to eat them too. Someone even convinced two news anchors to eat the chocolate grasshoppers live on the air.
With the total cost of the campaign at $68,103, the direct results in the first month alone were as follows:
130,000 views of the motion-graphic video
4,911% increase in Twitter visitors compared with the previous month
3,286% increase in Facebook visitors compared with the previous month
47,000 unique pageviews of grasshopper.com/idea
1,461 tweets about the campaign
119 blog posts and news articles about the campaign
51 user-generated pictures
14 user-generated videos
8 national television broadcasts about the campaign
4 grasshoppers eaten on live TV or radio
First, we’ve learned that it’s possible to purposefully generate buzz by pushing the outrageous button. Second, we’ve seen how Grasshopper used an outrageous campaign and reached out to key influencers in order to generate massive amounts of publicity and buzz.
What are your thoughts about the Grasshopper campaign and pushing the outrageous button? How does your brand generate buzz?
About the author:
Joseph Putnam is a freelancecopywriterandmarketingconsultant who lives in sunny Southern California where residents complain when it’s warmer than 80 degrees. He writes persuasive website content for businesses and helps develop campaigns that generate buzz. He also writes at 5 NorthMarketing, and you can follow him on Twitter @josephputnam.