The importance of being open-minded

Reprinted from the Zazoo blog:

I know it’s hard for most companies to acknowledge that they are no longer in control of their marketing, and that their customers now strongly influence what happens to their brand. It’s harder still for them to take active steps to give control to their customers, particularly when stories of what has happened to companies like Chevrolet, Skittles and Domino’s abound.

Believe it or not, it hasn’t been that long that companies have used the Internet to let customers actively play with their brand. I was reminded of this when I read recently about ‘celebrations’ of the fifth anniversary of Subservient Chicken, that creepy guy in the chicken suit with garters who reponds to user commands to reinforce the message that you can ‘have chicken your way’ at Burger King (Hungry Jack’s in Australia). The guys who came up with the idea have written a huge screed about the origins of Subservient Chicken which makes interesting reading.

The most important factor leading to this iconic online campaign was that the client was open to left-of-field ideas. As The Barbarian Group director Rick Webb writes, “To be perfectly frank, even as we were building the thing, I never believed it would launch. We here at TBG are insanely good these days for convincing clients to take risks. But in 2004, there was no way we ever could have sold the Chicken through. Sometimes getting the green light is as important as the idea. Most of the time, if you ask me.”

Of course, the big question is, did it sell more chicken for Burger King? To quote from AdWeek: ”About a month after the sandwich debuted, BK reported that sales had steadily increased an average of 9% a week. Since then the company has seen ‘double-digit’ growth of awareness of the TenderCrisp sandwich and ’significantly increased’ chicken sandwich sales. And the TenderCrisp does sell better than the original sandwich.”

Yes, you can make some mistakes by trying new things. But you might also take on that concept that powers your brand to a new level – and have fun doing it. Go on, try something new this month!