Obama Watch Gets Candidate's Attention


Jack Goldenberg tells the story of how he and Kevin Glennon turned a custom-made Obama for President watch into what could become a fairly sizable viral campaign for the candidate.

"Most people think of viral marketing is something they've seen on YouTube or a similar site. But in reality, a viral is any communication that causes one person to be so affected by "experiencing" the viral that they communicate it to another.

It might surprise you to know that the Happy Meal may have been America's first viral product (even though, of course, no one knew the word viral-we just called it word of mouth").

In 1979, as Creative Director of the Frankel Company, McDonald's promotion agency, I remember arguing with Ray Kroc, McDonald's founder. He wanted to save millions of pennies by putting the first national Happy Meal in a bag. I said it had to be in a box so it wouldn't slip behind a kid's desk.

I argued that the Happy Meal was an 'in-home reminder of the need to visit McDonald's.' Kids would see two or three of them on their desk in their room and say, "Mom, Dad, we HAVE to go back to McDonald's. I need 3 more Star Treks Happy Meals to complete my collection."

So instead of one person telling another and that person telling another and another and another, the Happy Meal was viral--kid to parent-multiplied by the millions of kids who frequented McDonald's.

Cut to 2008. I created one Obama for President watch and wore it to a party. I got so many compliments and requests for an Obama watch that I made up a sample order and partnered with Kevin Glennon to create a viral campaign to elect Barack Obama President. Our only advertising was the watch itself and little cards we printed asking people to spread the word that "it's time for change."

Back in April, I distributed 50 cards to Obama headquarters in Philadelphia and within a week I had orders for 5 watches. Nothing to retire on, but the start of a viral campaign. These "sneezers" must have shown the watch or the card to other Obama supporters and within a month I got 35 more orders for Obama watches from the same zip code.

Now, two months later we have over 100 orders from that zip code and today I got a request from the Democratic National Committee to bring our watches to a fundraiser in Philadelphia this Friday where the DNC wants me to sell watches AND present an Obama for President watch to Senator Obama and to Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

So the 50 'viral' cards I distributed and the 5 watches we sold led to what may wind up being the biggest selling political collectible of the 2000 election. Time will tell."

by Steve Hall    Jun-11-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Good, Political, Viral   

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Wait, this is the 2000 election? Did time go backwards to a pre-George W. Bush world? Now that's "hope."

Posted by: Jessie Birks on June 11, 2008 11:24 AM

Sounds like a slow start to a viral movement, but I guess Obama can use any little bit of help he can get!

Posted by: BloggerBen on June 11, 2008 4:41 PM

I think it sounds like a very clever idea. Put me down for a watch...in fact, I'm planning to buy it as a gift for several members of my family. It is TIME for a change!

Posted by: TV's Dave on June 14, 2008 12:36 PM