Everybody poops. Well, almost everybody.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to that fact on a day to day basis.
So it’s hard to get excited about a product that makes it possible to (forgive me, but I can’t resist) do number two… while feeling like number one.
But the Edwards family from Utah changed all that with one massively popular ad that went completely viral.
Between Facebook and YouTube, we’re talking more than 50 MILLION views, with more than 70% of all viewers watching the entire 3-minute ad.
Before I go on, here’s the ad:
Now, this sort of viral success and massive reach is any marketer’s dream. But without an equivalent increase in sales, 50 million views would be something of a hollow victory.
Fortunately for the folks at Squatty Potty, this one ad boosted sales by a whopping 600% – resulting in financial success for the company and a whole lot of happy poopers.
Let’s be honest here – the chances of a marketing campaign achieving this kind of success is pretty slim, even if all of the pieces are in place. But having all of the right components definitely stacks the odds in your favor.
What Makes the “Pooping Unicorn” Squatty Potty Ad So Damned Successful?
Again, I’m not in any way saying that there’s a “plug and play” formula that will guarantee that your ad will go viral and you’ll be rolling in piles of cash by this time next week. There are way too many variables (many of them with names like “luck,” “damned luck,” and “beats me”) working with varying degrees of resistance to know for sure that you’ve got a winner on your hands. But let’s see what this crazy ad has going for it:
1. It’s memorable and unique.
Clearly, there’s not anything like it, period. And to be honest, once you’ve spent three minutes watching a CGI unicorn operate as a rear-dispensing soft-serve ice cream extruder… You. Can’t . UN-see. It.
Can’t be done.
Awesome, right? Come up with something memorable and unique, and you’re golden.
Not really. Virtually all marketers who aim for viral success focus ONLY on making memorable, unique advertising. And sometimes (ok, occassionally) their ads do go viral. But they rarely translate to success for the companies that commission the ads.
There’s a lot more at play here than just an ad that combines “cute” with “there’s a burning trainwreck right in front of me and I can’t stop watching it.”
2. The eye-catching elements relate strongly to the product/offer.
Look, if a “crazy” ad was enough to make a marketing campaign successful, all any of us would need to do would be to find that one cousin who’s always stoned and listen to him babble incoherently for 15 minutes. Then we’d turn his ramblings into an equally incoherent ad, toss in a product shot, and shout “Voila!”
If you live in the States, you’ve seen the latest round of GEICO ads on televison… or, at the very least, you’ve had to suffer through one before getting to watch Miley Cyrus shake her whooty on YouTube. The campaign is made up of ads designed to grab attention, featuring 80’s rock bands in an office cafeteria and whatnot. The formula is something like, “If you’re (the band Europe/a golf commentator/the guy from the Operation game), you (love a Final Countdown/whisper/operate). It’s what you do. If you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO. It’s what you do.”
Amusing? Maybe (if you’re the type of person who thinks a Jeff Foxworthy skit is “comedy gold”). Effective? Ha.
Watching golfers get eaten by the Kraken might be satisfying on some murky level, but it’s not even remotely related to car insurance. So the ads succeed in amusing millions of people who are probably never going to buy anything from them.
One of the most successful sales letters I ever wrote contained a headline that relied heavily on shock value… but it also tied directly in to the product’s main benefit (it was a prenatal vitamin that contained only natural ingredients):
“Why Give Your Kids ‘Junk Food’ Before They’re Even Born?”
Not as clever as an ice-cream-pooping unicorn, but it snagged plenty of eyeballs… and because it was relevant to the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), it sold a lot of vitamins.
Likewise, in the Squatty Potty ad, the concept is centered around the product’s main benefit – it makes going to the bathroom easier and less stressful on your colon. From the first second to the last, you’re getting a well-crafted sales pitch… and not wanting it to end!
What you’re seeing in the ad is entertainment, education, and promotion all wrapped up in one wildly shareable video.
3. It bucks conventional thinking – big-time.
In an age when even the truly “shocking” can be easily overlooked by viewers who are used to being bombarded with “zany” media every single day, “out of the box” marketing has become mainstream. But even “edgy” marketing has its rules… and that’s why Lori Greiner, Shark Tank’s advisor, cautioned against moving forward with the ad.
Even the other Squatty Potty principals bristled at the concept when it was conceived by CEO Bobby Edwards. It wasn’t “edgy” in the right way.
Thankfully, Bobby didn’t listen. He didn’t want to be part of the “cool kids” who were all different in the exact same way. He bet the success of his company on a marketing vision that didn’t conform to conventional standards (or even “unconventional” standards). And he won.
But not overnight.
4. There was patience involved – two years’ worth.
We all want to unleash the most brilliant marketing piece ever today… and have it spread like wildfire tomorrow morning. Because that’s exactly how it looks when people/things/ideas get very popular. “Oh look, this wildly successful (ad/pop star/actress/flavor of cereal) just came out of nowhere! Lucky bastards!”
The Squatty Potty ad, like most incredibly successful things, didn’t come out of nowhere. It was officially unveiled in October 2015, but almost two years of planning, refinement, and hard work went into making and testing the ad. Part of that was because of the company’s commitment to incredibly efficient spending… but it was also because every detail needed to be right to maximize the ad’s chances for success.
In the end, all of that hard work paid off… but most of us would have crapped out long before that point. (Ok, I’ll stop with the scat jokes now.)
So there you go – some very valuable unicorn poop served up just for you. Now go forth and market well… but maybe skip the rainbow ice cream.