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Social Media Video Success: Flying Chips & Sandwich Defamation

The first of two social media marketing video successes I’d like to discuss here is the “Will It Blend” phenomenon. This story is about Tom Dickson, the President of a company called BlendTec out of Orem, Utah. When you see the video you will see that Tom is not right. He’s enjoying blending these things way too much. There’s a particular spot in the video where you’ll recognize it immediately. 😉 Tom created a blender, a great blender, and it better be, because it’s a $650 home blender, a residential blender.

The first of two social media marketing video successes I’d like to discuss here is the “Will It Blend” phenomenon. This story is about Tom Dickson, the President of a company called BlendTec out of Orem, Utah. When you see the video you will see that Tom is not right. He’s enjoying blending these things way too much. There’s a particular spot in the video where you’ll recognize it immediately. 😉 Tom created a blender, a great blender, and it better be, because it’s a $650 home blender, a residential blender.

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Tom knows the number one cause of blender death in America is Margarittas. I’m not kidding you. People get drunk, they throw the carafe… No, the blender death is not people death, it’s blender death because they are grinding all that ice. Have you ever burned out a blender grinding ice for frozen drinks?

The night before Tom was ready to release his new blender product, he went into engineering and he pulled one off the shelf to test it. After all, his company is riding on this. It’s after 6:00 p.m. and everyone had gone home, all of the engineers are gone. How is he going to test it? How do you test a blender motor? Tom sees a door, steps outside and he’s in the parking lot when he notices that the yard-care guys have left their rake. So he brings the rake in, removes the top, turns his blender on, pushes the puree button, and jams this five-foot solid oak-handled rake into the running blender. Tom continues pushing the rake in until he’s ground the entire handle down to the metal tines.

Talk about the proverbial chips hitting the fan! (I spellchecked that word several times). The wood chips flew everywhere! After all that, Tom is satisfied with the performance of his blender. If it can grind a five-foot oak handle, it’s good to go.

The next morning the engineers came in and called the police. They thought they’d been vandalized. Only to find out, no that’s just crazy Tom! Everybody in the company wanted to see Tom do this again, in person. Tom then sent the Administrative Assistant down the hardware store and buy a rake; well, probably two rakes because they had to replace one he ate up the night before, on the yard-care guy.

At the time, there was an intern who was working in PR for BlendTec. A young kid who had his digital video camera in his desk and he asked Tom if he could videotape this spectacle, because he thought “this is funny stuff!” So he did. Tom grabs a blender, starts it up, puts it on puree and begins grinding up another rake handle and the chips are flying everywhere and everybody’s laughing. It’s hysterical.

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Now here comes the punch line. The kid takes the video and puts it up on YouTube. Within twenty-four hours that video was viewed by more than 1,200,000 people. And, within that same 24-hour period, they sold out of every single blender that they had in the warehouse. What did that video cost them to produce? Nothing, well maybe two rakes. And as an intern, I’m sure he didn’t get paid either. How cool is that?

In this video example Tom isn’t blending a rake. No, Tom went to the Apple store for an Apple iPhone and he blends a brand new iPhone!

To date, this one video has received more than 3,500,000 views. If I told you that I could market your company and I could get your customers to ask to watch your TV commercial, and I can get 3,500,000 people to watch, would you hire me? Especially when I tell you that I can do it for only the cost of a $400 cell phone? Isn’t that amazing?

If you visit BlendTec’s YouTube channel you will see Tom blend diamonds (cubic zirconium), hockey pucks, golf balls, glow sticks, Barbie dolls, pens, video cameras, cell phones, and my very favorite, his tilapia shake. This is where Tom takes a full can of Coke, in the can, a fresh tilapia fish, and blends it into a shake, and drinks it! He even blends silly putty. Amazing!

The second video I will discuss is Subway vs. Quiznos, social media gone wild. Quiznos sandwich shop decided it wanted to engage its customers by utilizing “user-generated content”. They wanted to get their customers engaged in their brand. They created a contest. They wanted their customers to grab their video cameras, create a 60-second commercial about why they think Quiznos is better than Subway. Once completed, upload it to Quiznos’s Web site. If they like your commercial and choose it as the winner, they will make it their national commercial. That would be cool and the customer / creator will get all that national attention. Well the winners–these guys got attention for sure.

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In this video example, you’ll see that these guys are a sandwich short of a picnic. Not the sharpest tool in the shed. A couple of bricks shy of a load. What they did is instead of uploading the video to Quiznos, was they uploaded it to YouTube. Subway saw it along with 54,000 other viewers in the first 24 hours. When you see this video, you’re going to see why Subway sued Quiznos for defamation of sandwich.

To watch this video, click here.

Now that you’ve watched this video, can you understand why Subway, maybe, was less than pleased with that commercial? So they sued. They sued Quiznos. Here’s the interesting thing about social media. As soon as Subway sued Quiznos, the noise, became a buzz, people started talking about it, and before long, everybody was watching the video. The next thing you know it’s on the front page of The New York Times. That’s how I found out about it. Subway actually did more to promote this video than did Quiznos.

I suppose Subway was smart enough to hire some social media people that said, “Dudes (I think they were from L.A.) ease back, man. This is social media. They were just having fun. Quiznos didn’t do it. It was a couple of Southies. Subway finally admitted, “Yeah, we know your sandwich is as good as ours and not as it was portrayed in the video.” With that, Subway dropped the lawsuit, and what happened next was amazing. Subway got so much good press for dropping the lawsuit and taking a social attitude, they actually picked up market share.

That’s what social media is about, even when it goes wild. Being transparent. Don’t fight it, just go with it. Be honest. Even if things go terribly wrong, you can still recover and actually gain market share, if you admit your mistakes, and jut be sincere.

Read more of Lon Safko’s Social Media Bible blog

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Lon Safko is the co-author of The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies For Business Success. He is also an innovator and professional speaker with over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, strategic partnering, speaking, training, writing, and e-commerce. He is the founder of eight successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc.


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About the author

Lon Safko is a remarkably creative person. He is the creator of the “First Computer To Save A Human Life” as coined by Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc..

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