Maybe you have seen this a lot on social media, celebrities posting paid-promotion content or celebrities giving paid reviews on products, but do you know what this strategy is called? Yes, this is called buzz marketing strategy. Simply put, buzz marketing is a viral marketing strategy that leverages fresh and creative content, interactive events, and community influencers to generate word-of-mouth marketing and anticipation for the product or service the brand is about to launch. This is a very effective marketing strategy that although it may cost so much, but you can get ROI for that. However, as a person who works at a creative agency that provides SEO services, web design and web development services as well as social media services, I know for a fact buzz marketing strategy has both benefits and drawbacks. I’m not going to list all the benefits and the drawbacks one by one, but I’m going to depict the real-life good and bad examples of buzz marketing so you can get a better understanding of it. Keep reading to find out!
Bud Light x Game of Thrones
Who doesn’t know Game of Thrones? GoT smashed HBO’s record for the 17.4 million the moment the last season was released. Even those who never watch it acknowledge its popularity. I may not one of GoT’s fans, but I know that fact. However, most people have been waiting for GoT’s last season for 20 months, and no matter how famous GoT is, they still need a little bit of PR and marketing strategy. And so they went and collaborated with Bud Light. Two months before the final season of Game of Thrones, Bud Light aired one of their Bud Knight advertisements during Super Bowl 53. However, half way through the commercial, audience immediately realised that this wasn’t just another hilariously witty Bud Knight ad. It was actually an intensely dramatic Game of Thrones ad. Since almost every Game of Thrones fan recommends the show to all their friends, which generates a lot of word-of-mouth marketing, the series doesn’t really need any influencers to promote it. However, that’s not the interesting part. What caught my eyes is the fact that Bud Light is so eager to share one of their most-watched ads of the year with HBO and kill off the Bud Knight, one of their most popular mascots, to endorse Game of Thrones and this tells me how much the Beer company truly loves the show. Even someone who hasn’t watched the show like me is starting to consider watching it someday. Well, from this, we can tell that this is the example of successful buzz marketing. Now let’s get to…
The backfire of the Fyre Festival
Just like almost everything in the world that is not perfect, buzz marketing also has its drawbacks if you are not doing it the right way. Let me tell you in the example from the Fyre Festival incident. In 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule organised a music festival called Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. In order to generate as much buzz as possible for the event, they paid some of the most notable social media influencers, like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski, to fly down to the Bahamas, act in their promo video, and post the video to their Instagram profiles. The event even promoted festival’s stellar acts, luxury villas, and gourmet meals, and soon after, the festival sold over 4,000 tickets.
Unfortunately for the attendees, when the festival took place, everything didn’t go as planned. Simply put, everything didn’t go as promised. The event was a total disaster. It was poorly managed and disorganised that it was considered as a complete scam a.k.a Fyre Fraud. Instead of providing luxury villas and gourmet meals paid for thousand dollars by the attendees, McFarland and Ja Rule gave them tents and cheese sandwiches. What’s even worse; there was no cell phone service, portable toilets, or even running water at the festival, so basically people were left stranded there. When the truth about what happened in the Fyre Festival started spreading on social media, all of the festival’s acts cancelled. Shortly after Fyre Festival’s epic failure, its parent company, Fyre Media, shut down and Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and forced to repay $26 million to his company’s investors. From this experience, we see that this is the real life failed buzz marketing strategy.
From the examples above, we can learn that buzz marketing can work as long as you are doing it properly. When applying this strategy, make sure you:
- Prepare everything as detailed as possible
- Do not announce something before it’s fully ready
- Know that it’s better to take long to prepare until it’s perfect than to rush things
- Make everyone involved get comfortable with the project
- Consider a few things that may hinder the project
- Know your budget
- Have a plan B, C, D until F
No matter how effective a strategy is; if you are not well-prepared and well-educated, you might fail if you are not willing to take time to learn and make many plans. The examples above can be your source to learn how to manage your own buzz marketing strategy. Learn both the good and bad parts so that you understand better. Communication and plans are the most important elements when it comes to buzz marketing strategy; therefore, you have to be patient when you are doing this strategy for your own events too.