The Cucumber Case

Here is another one of those ‘anatomy of a trending topic (virus)’ kind of stories. Sometimes little ideas can go a long way. Sometimes just for a day, but that’s also ok. Probably you stumbled upon the Durex cucumber, probably not. Anyway, last week the condom brand Durex suddenly and out of nowhere was the #1 trending topic in the Netherlands. How did that happen?

Well, a simple insight, probably a couple of dudes talking at the copy station, 15 minutes of a graphic designer and one post to a marketing blog later, and the cucumber kind of went crazy. Let’s just make this clear at this point. The story around the EHEC virus and the fact that people died is nothing to make fun of. I guess at the point this was launched, the seriousness of the virus was not that clear.

Still the idea kind of sticked with a lot of people, as it was up-to-date based on the news of that week. Some articles reported that especially women were affected. Then this motif appeared, first on the EpicEpic blog. I saw it there and posted it on my Posterous ideAgenda site (where it now has some 2.000+ views). Nothing really happened, as expected. Then I decided to suggest it to the IllegalAdvertising blog, which is a natural environment with significant reach for these kind of ideas. I also added an English translation of the headline, which is something like ‘Girls, don’t give EHEC a chance’.

The next morning it was on the blog and somehow a dutch Marketing blog jumped on it. From there on it got hundreds of re-tweets always mentioning the brand name. This then led to Durex being a trending topic in the Netherlands, which again fired the conversation because people wondered why Durex suddenly is a trend.

For one day, Durex generated a lot of talk value and when I realized that this was happening, I tried to document the development of this little viral hit. You can see some screenshots here, but it was also interesting to use a professional monitoring tool, that clearly indicated the #Durex peak on that day.

This again made clear that viral dynamics are hard to predict. Who would have thought that this generated that much buzz in the Netherlands. That was just a coincidence. I still think that the power of the right timing (daily news topics) contained the viral potential here. Although we live in this hectic and high paced time, the most underrated factor in marketing and advertising is time. Timing is everything and sometimes marketeres are struggling with getting their camapin on the street for about 6 months or even longer. In this ultra-post-everything-right-now-and-here world, you gotta be quick, dirty, decisive and on the point. At least this was the key success factor for the cucumber.


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About aschauerte

Marketing, Media, Communications and Business Strategist.

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