Sounds like…effective marketing

Fake advertising is typically frowned upon. Basing your ad campaign on truth is more likely to make and retain customers than making up stories to create a temporary buzz. Yet Mail Chimp, an email marketing platform, did just that with their wildly successful ‘Did You Mean Mail Chimp?‘ campaign which reached 334 million people.

Why did this fake brand strategy work? Its clever alliteration-laced messaging was a self-deprecating allegory that used actual marketed products without straying from the company’s true identity: an online marketing tool.

Over an entire year, Mail Chimp partnered with advertising agency Droga5 to promote nine items that rhymed with Mail Chimp, targeting different subcultures that typically use its advertising brand. These ads were linked to Mail Chimp’s landing page and were as wildly named as the business itself:

VeilHymn – musicians Blood Orange and Bryndon Cook collaborated on a new song, “Hymn” which has been streamed more than 1.5 million times and was covered by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.

FailChips – basing the idea on those pieces of potato chips at the bottom of the bag that are too small and poking fun at snack fads and foodie culture, Mail Chimp crushed, bagged and distributed bags of Fail Chips to stores in 10 cities.

MaleCrimp – Mail Chimp teamed up with Paper Magazine during New York Fashion Week, providing a one-day pop-up at Made Man Barbershop to crimp men’s hair in an 80’s era fashion throwback. Paper toted the style as the next big trend in men’s hair.

WhaleSynth – Mail Chimp created an advanced ambient music, web-based tool allowing “romantics, ambient musicians and experimental weirdos” to sample and mix music with a variety of whale sounds. Although it may seem arcane, the tool was reviewed and featured in articles by DjMag and Electronic Beats. Users can modify the sound by species, ocean depth and echo/sonar qualities.

MailShrimp, kalelimp, and jailblimp were three surreal art films produced by RiffRaff Films and The Directors Bureau that were previewed in 95 art-house theaters and 180 regional chains across the country.

NailChamp – marketers created an interactive Instagram-based nail art competition that ran for six weeks in January. Contestants were given weekly themes. The competition was covered in Nail It! Magazine and Teen Vogue.

SnailPrimp – basing the campaign on the trending use of snail secretions in facials, Mail Chimp hosted a one-day pop-up spa on the roof of the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles where people could receive a free snail facial. Mail Chimp noted that snail secretions are packed with glycoprotein, proteoglycans, hyaluronic acid and antimicrobial peptides, which are used in other beauty products.


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