Santa Barbara’s Greg Nichols reported in the local weekly Independent a very interesting article about Harley-Davidson and UCSB.
The ultra cool American motorcycle company is dipping its toes into… viral marketing?
Here is what they did. They actually sponsored a class on viral marketing on a real campus. They granted ten film and media students 1200 dollars to create a video to market Harleys to a new generation and to women. This was a wonderful idea.
“eyebrows rose a few months ago when the Film and Media Studies Department at UCSB announced an upcoming class sponsored by Harley-Davidson, a name synonymous with outlaw ideals. Now in its eighth week, the classâ€‰â€”â€‰a workshop aimed at understanding and developing viral advertisingâ€‰â€”â€‰seems to have made a fruitful collaboration of the odd coupling, and has served as a valuable lesson to students about the inevitable intersection of creativity and commercialism.” more from the article
The results were interesting but as a thought experiment, could have gotten much sweeter were such an effort spearheaded not only by the obviously professional marketing effort it had, but also a link building guru whose entire life is being savvy at the art of viral.
I think this effort would have benefited from the students hanging out with Webuildpages, SEOmoz, Stuntdl, RangeOnline or Clientside to name a few. Even the top online marketing specialists in the field can benefit from link building gurus, using targeted viral efforts. Typical marketing budgets can be rewarded with an enormous ROI if they simply seek out the people who know this stuff best.
We delight in this shit. Really. Give me 50,000 of your budget and some college students…Yum.
The fact that Harley Davidson is sponsoring this class is brilliant. Those in the know realize how much these techniques are on the minds of the handful of people who can provide the real value of unique viral strategy. The fact that they are translating this into groups of students on real campuses is sweet.
This has been on my mind alot. The importance of such campaigns is very clear in the new Google universal world. My compliments to Harley for doing an impressive campaign (they started on this last fall). It was a job well done.
If you are a company (even if you are a online marketing company) with what you think is a great idea, then make the 10000 (or so) spend it costs for someone to take a targeted look at it. Your idea is very likely a great one. Todays market requires more than a great idea, it needs creative and directed implementation.
That being said, why am I reading about Harleys marketing effort in a free city weekly paper? Why am I hearing about Harleys viral efforts offline? Note for fairness: I am not their target audience, so not a judgment, but an observation. In fact the weekly paper I read it in serves the community of a student population (UCSB) so I may very well be reacting to a community effort, in which case… here is your link for the coolest motorcycle ever. See they got links out of it. Thats how it works.