Bayer has just launched a viral marketing campaign for its Aleve pain reliever. From the NY Times, July 12:
"By visiting a Web site, www.aleviator.com, Internet users will be able to follow a fictional storyline that leads them through a series of clues, taking them in and out of social networking sites, wikis and blogs.
For each person who clicks through to the end of the game, which takes at least a minute, Bayer will make a donation of $5 to $10 to the Conservation Fund, an environmental nonprofit group. The campaign will last a month.
The gimmick is intended to get people in the 25-to-49 age group to notice Aleve, a pain medicine that was introduced 13 years ago and is used mostly by people over 50 to relieve symptoms typically associated with aging, like arthritis and back pain."
So, given that I am both a marketer very interested in these sorts of campaigns and an Internet user in the target age range, I thought I’d check it out.
Prediction: the campaign will spread and people will click through to the end because Internet users will be motivated by the charity donation. Even though Bayer doesn’t advertise the donation upfront on the aleviator site, let’s face it, everyone who spreads the word will be prefacing it with the information. And knowing that outcome is going to be what keeps people looking for the links to move forward.
At least that was what kept me moving forward. The story itself was kinda hokey; it was trying so hard to be hip and funny, and ended up not so much of either. While it clearly wanted more engagement that I was willing to give it, it didn’t give me a good reason to bother reading or viewing more material. I just looked around for the obvious next link in the chain and clicked.
It wasn’t that it was bad. It just wasn’t that interesting. For me, the payoff is the donation. As it will be for many.
That said, I wouldn’t call this a failure. It will be interesting to see the sales results for Aleve in the target population after the campaign. Even if people (like me) click through as fast as they can, it doesn’t mean they won’t think more positively about Aleve and perhaps consider purchasing it.
Because that is the measure of success. Not how many people view the campaign. Not how much is donated to the charity, although it is an excellent by-product. How many people actually buy the product.
A lesson learned the hard way by many. Like Miller last spring, whose beer cannon campaign was a viral success and a sales flop. As reported in CNN Money:
MISS] No accounting for taste. In the midst of today’s viral-marketing epidemic, it’s worth noting that funny videos don’t always circle back around to the bottom line. That’s a lesson Miller Brewing learned the hard way with the "beer cannon" campaign it produced for its Milwaukee’s Best brand. Though the videos–featuring cans turned into projectiles and blowing away unmanly items like stacked teacups and ceramic kitty cats–have been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube, they haven’t had much impact at retail. In fact, despite the direct hit with its target audience, Milwaukee’s Best sales fell 11 percent from the previous year.
Let’s hope Aleve can avoid that headache….
Disclosure: I already occasionally use Aleve when I have a particularly nasty headache.
Tags: Aleve, pharma, Bayer, viral marketing, word-of-mouth