Here’s My .37 Cents

More than 100 advertisers paid $6+ million for their Superbowl moment…only to be immediately forgotten. The top-rated ad showed Meadow Soprano driving a Chevy. Did it inspire anybody to buy one?

It’s time we call out the elephant in the room. Mass marketing is just eye candy that rarely moves the needle.

So, what does work?

Original, authentic, grassroots campaigns with a strategic purpose. Like this.

Here’s my take. Bob Rivers was a wildly popular morning DJ with a successful comedy album under his belt. But when he landed in Seattle, Bob was totally unknown. So, he’d have to elbow his way into a fiercely competitive market.

One day, Bob came to me with a brilliant idea. He and video production ace, Steve Stockman, conceived a four-part TV campaign called “37 Cents”.

Done on the cheap, the first spot showed Bob in a ratty armchair with a single lightbulb hanging overhead. He introduced himself and in his charming way, asked people to give his show a try.

In the second spot, Bob sat in a nicer chair beside a table lamp and said, “thanks for listening folks, it’s really starting to work. In fact, I figure I now earn .37 cents per listener. And if you send me an envelope, I’ll send you back a check for .37 cents.”

It started with a trickle, then the mail started pouring in. So, we launched the third ad showing Bob wearing a designer sport coat, sitting on a leather couch beneath a neon logo. “Things are going so great that we’ve mailed out thousands of 37 cent checks. So, keep it going.” Turns out, listeners kept the checks as souvenirs, and most were never cashed.

In the final ad (see the VCR screenshot above), Rivers announced that we’d sent out too many checks and our bank account was overdrawn. So, Bob was back to his humble beginnings. But by then, he’d won over the city and was off to the races.

When Bob Rivers retired a few years ago, he was the most popular personality in the history of Seattle radio.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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