The Invisblys: Great Marketing You’ve Never Seen

This is the interactive version of my column at MediaPost.

Some of the greatest marketing is marketing you’ve probably never seen. It’s experienced by just a handful of tightly targeted audiences. So it’s a rare treat to come across below-the-radar marketing that makes me smile or laugh or “get it” as much as a multi-gizillion-dollar ad campaign might. When I do, I stick it in a file. Here are a few of my favorites.

As always, if you have your own examples, you can post them as a comment

So Adjust your bow-ties and those clear-bra-strap thingies. It’s time for the Invisibly Awards, celebrating great marketing you’ve never seen.

1. Superoptimists seek (and land!) a publishing deal. A brilliant book proposal letter

Venice Beach, CA-based Walt Morton and his colleague recently wrote a very funny somewhat tongue-in-cheek self-help book called Secrets of the Superoptimist. (It turns out to be not so tongue-in-cheek when you realize that putting your tongue in your cheek can be a secret to a successful life).

Anyway, it’s not as if Walt and Co. had a publishing track record. They had to break in. And that’s not always easy. Unless, of course, you’re a Superoptimist.

Their pitch letter, which they sent to just a few agents, had all the elements of a great ad campaign. It was clever, funny and, most of all, it embodied the book’s brand essence. To read the letter was to experience the book. Here’s one of the more serious excerpts:

  • “Awaken the Giant Within: 1.8 million copies.
  • Worst Case Scenario Handbook: 1.2 million.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: 6 million.

Impressive, yes, yet it is still possible for one book to outsell all three blockbusters combined! That book is SECRETS OF THE SUPEROPTIMIST.

They sign off with Thanks for your consideration, and for taking us on as clients (how’s that for SuperOptimism?)

What happened? An agent bit—quickly— and auctioned the book. It’s due in the fall. It’s going to do incredibly well.

2. Even if you’ve heard of this company, you won’t have seen this unless you’ve bought something

How many brand marketers have much influence in the dryest of dry spots— the shipping section of the online ordering form? Not many.

It seems that many companies take the attitude that once a consumer is entering credit card info, the deal is done and it’s time to move on to the next lead. But not the very cool Brooklyn-based custom-clothing company Neighborhoodies.

After the fun and very personal experience of creating your own sweatshirt  you’re given the usual shipping options (US Mail, overnight, etc.). You’re also offered the Presidential Shipping option which involves the company CEO personally flying your order to you for $800. It’s such a nice surprise to see something like this. It fits perfectly with their brand. This isn’t cross-selling or upselling. It’s brand-personality-reinforcement. And it’s powerful.

And it’s not as if ‘s an actual distraction for the actual president of Neighborohoodies.  In an email, founder and president Michael de Zayas says he’s only done this once. He flew an order to some customers/fans in Altanta. Back then he only charged $500 for his Presidential service and ended up losing $300 in airfare.

3. Seeding Buzz with “The Review SASE”

As anyone who has ever applied for financial aid or tried to sell a screenplay knows, a SASE is a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. The makers of the brand new Java Juice Pure Coffee Extract are using the SASE to build buzz for their cool little product: basically a shot of espresso in a one-serving baggy. The baggy is good for, among other sorts, backpackers and all-nighter pullers.

Like any start-up they’re faced with every challenge all at once: making a name for themselves, increasing distribution, etc. etc. ad exhaustionium (good thing they’re surrounded by caffeine!)

Of course every little bit of support helps.

So they make it easy and fun for people to support them. When they bring any new person into their world— a partner company., a potential distributor, a friend—they send sample product and include a letter filled with reviews from the perfect mash-up of people: college students, outdoorsy types, store owners, chefs, a cop.

And they send along a SASE so people can send in their own review and get in on the mash-up.  Of course I sent in a glowing one in. Why not? It took me a second and made me feel good.

Of course this sort of thing is done online fairly often with comment forms. The SASE though, is old school and tactile and different. Whether online or off, his is how buzz is built. From the ground up. Honestly and creatively.

These are three favorites from my file. Do you have your own? Share them. The comments button likes you.

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2 responses

  1. Virgin Mobile created a very funny campaign on the idea of invisible marketing… they created a bunch of tools online for kids to print out and use to convince their parents to buy them a cell phone. This actually included a powerpoint and instructions on the best time of day, best location in the house and the best words to use to invite parents to the presentation.

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