The Tippexperience Analyzed

You can hear the whole agency world banging their heads on their keyboards and go “Shit, why didn’t we think of that?”. That is what my colleague Johannes tweeted on Thursday, when we saw the Tippexperience. Ok, it already seems to be too late to write something about this (I just need to get faster with this stuff), but I wrote down a few notes on the Tippexperience on the weekend and still want to share them with you.

Yes, at first sight this viral stunt is something that makes all the others jealous. At second sight, it reminds us of the ‘Subservient Chicken’. For those who don’t work in advertising and are not familiar with the case: The subservient chicken was one of the first real viral stunts in the digital space. You can still check out the Burger King website. It was done by CP+B and The Barbarian Group and launched in . It was a viral success because the website made (and still does) people believe that there really is a guy in a chicken costume behind a webcam, following every command that you could possibly think of. There were more than three hundred pre-recorded scenes that created that viral effect and which made this one of the really successful (at least in terms of an awareness / cost ratio) interactive online campaigns. A similar mechanic was used in the ‘Dirty Girls, Clean Cars‘ campaign.

At third sight the ‘Tippexperience’ is another viral stunt, which utilizes the digital strengths on multiple layers in a smart way. The campaign was done by the French agency Buzzman. I think the details and the mechanisms are interesting and worth analyzing. Here are the different elements coming together:

1) Video with user interaction: The first video you find lets you decide how the story should go on, already giving the impression that this is something interactive and that the user can direct the story. This is necessary to direct people to the YouTube channel that they created for this. Unfortunately they did not create different story lines. No matter if you click on ‘Shoot the bear’ or ‘Don’t shoot the bear’, you will always get to the Tippexperience YouTube channel.

2) YouTube channel takeover: Then the actual video starts with the hunter denying to shoot the bear. This all happens on the Tippexperience YouTube channel. This is pretty smart because it seems like this doesn’t even require any media investment. It is just a layer that gives the impression of a regular YouTube video.

3) Smart integration of the product benefit: The hunter in the video interacts with the banner. The guy grabs the Tipp-Ex and erases one part of the video title. This is a pretty cool way to highlight the product benefit of Tipp-Ex. I am talking about the brand challenge and product relevance for this target audience later.

4) Let the users control the action: The actual fun starts, when the user can put in anything (seemingly) to start the pre-produced videos. These are both funny and surprising. This is where the original subservient chicken mechanism is used. This works, because it is based on a pure media usage insight. When it comes to online and digital, people want to be in control. Everything that allows them to create their own experience and share it with their peers is a powerful tool for generating buzz.

5) Social media to create buzz: The whole user experience is so engaging and funny, that everyone just wants to share this video via Facebook and Twitter. Here the campaign mechanism comes full circle to generate further awareness for the video. Both share buttons are prominently placed below the banner on YouTube. Even little details like the jumping icons (known from the Mac OS X dock)  just make you want to share this stuff. Why the hell didn’t they include any link to a product website or any online shop. Am I blind or does this product still exist?

6) Further social boost: The potential number of things that you can enter into the empty space creates the viral effect. Because once people discover the video and share it with their friends, the community is literally hunting for things you might write into ‘A hunter _____ a bear’.

Here is a nice list of things you can type into the tippexed space:

A hunter ______

  • smokes a bear
  • wrestles a bear
  • is / is not a bear
  • has sex with a bear
  • cooks a bear
  • eats a bear
  • paints a bear
  • shoots a bear
  • lights up a bear
  • shops with a bear
  • rides a bear
  • plays football with a bear
  • tipp-ex a bear (which is again dramatizing the product benefit)
  • …. the list could go on and on, but after a while you will realize that the number of videos (unfortunately) is limited.

This is something where the Subservient Chicken raised the bar very high. The video sequences were much shorter and the number of videos much higher. That was the secret to create a far bigger and longer lasting viral effect. At that time it actually created a cultural phenomenon. Check out this blog post by the Barbarian Group from last year celebrating the 5th anniversary of the chicken. There are not many things in marketing that can beat a first mover advantage.

Still the Tippexperience is a pretty good case that surely increases awareness of Tipp-Ex, communicates the core benefit of the product and engages with the audience. Now the killer question: Does it sell? This is often the disappointing reality of this job. Of course everyone wants to come up with ideas like this but in the end a simple secondary placement deal with a huge retailer or a cooperation with Moleskine might do a better job in getting this stuff of the shelves. The challenge for a product like Tipp-Ex is definitely more than just creating awareness. And the product benefit seems to be more than irrelevant, especially for an audience that engages with this video on YouTube and shares it on Facebook. But of course this is hard to say yet and I don’t want to judge too fast. Old Spice was mistakenly ill-reputed and according to some sources, Burger King reported that sales for the TenderCrisp sandwich (by the way that was the product behind the Subservient chicken) had steadily increased an average of 9 percent a week after it’s launch in 2004. Let’s see if the hunter and the bear can safe Tipp-Ex from getting erased from the market. I doubt it.

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About aschauerte

Marketing, Media, Communications and Business Strategist.

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