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Social Media Marketing At Work: GourmetStation’s Get Out Of The Dog House Video Campaign
Two weeks ago, Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing Blog announced that she had helped launch a new contest, Get Out Of The Dog House, sponsored by specialty food company GourmetStation.  The campaign, which blends social and “traditional” media, is designed to:

-    Motivate consumer interest in GourmetStation
-    Reinforce GourmetStation’s positioning as a “gifting solution" to current customers
-    Introduce GourmetStation’s positioning as a “gifting solution” to a new target audience

I’m always interested in learning how people are using social media to build awareness of brands and promote products. I think it is especially important for individuals in healthcare to understand how those in other industries are using social media.  One key benefit is that they can learn about the benefits and drawbacks of these communications channels.  Bloomberg’s project is a perfect case study – especially because she is going public with strategic and tactical details of the campaign.   

I contacted Bloomberg recently with some questions about the campaign.  To my surprise and delight, I received three responses for the price of one.  Following is a transcript of my e-mail interview with:

Donna Lynes-Miller

Marianne Richmond
Resonance Partnership

Toby Bloomberg
Bloomberg Marketing

I encourage readers to visit the campaign’s MySpace page and participate.  They need your videos!  See below for the interview.   

Q1. How does the campaign fit in with the GourmetStation's overall brand and message platform? 

A1. Donna Lyons-Miller - We are a food gifting company and 80% of our transactions are for occasions. We  view the “Get Out Of The Dog House” campaign as another “occasion” for us. We hope to convey that a GourmetStation special meal can be also be thought of as a way of saying, “I’m sorry.” 

Marianne Richmond - By incorporating MySpace and YouTube into GourmetStation’s communication strategy we are hoping to reach and evaluate the potential of a different demographic, who we think is younger than the traditional customer, for GourmetStation products. This [campaign] should give us some useful data to make decisions about [whether to move in] that direction.

Q2. How are you reducing the odds that people may be think that the GourmetStation is a dog-focused meal program rather than one specific to humans?

A2. Toby Bloomberg – We never imagined that visitors would assume that GourmetStation was anything but a company that provides people with an upscale meal experience. However, the initial pass at the MySpace design showed us that there were indeed a few people who did think we were selling gourmet dog food. 

We took the feedback to heart and redesigned the masthead to include the storyline of the contest and to tie the contest closer to the brand. In addition we moved the information about GourmetStation along with a slideshow of the products/prizes to a more prominent placement on the site. The responses we received were that GourmetStation is definitely a ‘human’ experience.

Q3. Given that the campaign is only running for a month, how are you working to ignite interest and participation in the contest given that it may take people time to produce suitable content?

A3. Marianne Richmond - We are hoping that the combination of MySpace and YouTube will really drive interest in the video contest. MySpace, according to Hitwise is the number one ranked website in the US and YouTube has really taken off…500,000 people have created profiles on YouTube [to date].

By having a presence for the contest within these sites and participating through bulletins, friends, and our own videos we hope that this will generate interest and participation. As far as the time it takes to produce the content, we are only asking for a two-minute video where the production value is not the main criteria.

Donna Lyons-Miller  - The GourmetStation website home page feature promotion will not be Get Out Of The Dog House after early October. However, the MySpace page will stay up and include an announcement of the winners. In addition the $10 off coupon promotional code DH06 and the information about the $10 donation to the Borzoi Rescue Foundation with the redemption of all coupons through the end of 2006 will remain.

Q4. What are the plans for "crisis control"?  For example, what if someone develops a video, posts it on MySpace and it is linked to the campaign, even if it has inappropriate content?

A4. Donna Lyons-Miller - Delete it - it's in the rules!

Toby Bloomberg - As one of our comedian judges, Jed Fearon, told me -  it takes some talent to be funny “clean.” Our hopes are that people will have fun making and viewing the videos. Giving the person you are in trouble with a copy of your video combined with a GourmetStation meal would be a perfect way to get out of the dog house!

Q5. How are you going to handle  negative commentary about the contest or GourmetStation's food?

A5. Donna Lyons-Miller - Honestly & quickly.

Toby Bloomberg –  Since this is a viral, grassroots campaign the Internet word of buzz is important to drive awareness and traffic to the one of several websites: MySpace, YouTube and GourmetStation.  We realized that by including MySpace the campaign becomes a different type of promotion. To our knowledge, no small business has attempted to integrate MySpace as the launch site of a multi-dimensional, promotional strategy. 

We’ve sought the feedback of several bloggers and have incorporated their ideas into our redesign.  However, we are well aware that bloggers have very definite opinions and are not shy about voicing them. Monitoring the blogopshere and joining the conversation is an important element of our overall strategy.

Marianne Richmond - Some negative commentary seems to be part of the conversation; and as Toby mentioned we asked for feedback and we got what we asked for which wasn’t all positive.

MySpace is a world unto its own and makes the blogosphere seem almost like a “traditional” media so that “rules” that work for blogs don’t necessarily apply to MySpace. 

Further, there are limitations with MySpace layouts and rules that are very different and necessitate some less than “ideal” designs. So, we also have to take all the “MySpace” idiosyncrasies into consideration when responding to negatives.

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4 Comments/Trackbacks

Fard - thanks for the opportunity to tell the back-story of the Get Out Of The Dog House "smash-up" contest. Looking forward to seeing some of your readers's videos .. and perhaps one from you too


Thanks for asking some great questions and the opportunity to provide answers...after making a video over the weekend I may have to re-evaluate my "only asking for a 2 minute video" comment; it really wasn't such an "only" but it was lots of fun.



You're quite welcome. I'm not in the dog house . . . yet!


I can't wait to see the video! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn more about your strategic focus for the program. Many people are wary of giving away "trade secrets," but its important to have good case studies that everyone can learn and benefit from. Thanks!

Great post!! and helpful comment i like it.

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