Marketing Communication Ink

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How to Use TV Commercials for Word of Mouth Marketing

It may sound like an oxymoron, but can you name a TV commercial that’s a great example of word of mouth marketing?

Think Burlington Coat Factory’s “Brag About It” SM campaign.

It may sound weird, since a TV commercial is generally a paid promotion, and word of mouth marketing (WOMM, WOM marketing) is the exact opposite – an unpaid promotion using your happy customers to spread the word about your company, product or service. (1)

Still, Burlington’s “Brag About It” advertising campaign is brilliant for how it encourages happy customers to spread the word about them.

In just 15 seconds, these TV ads highlight how shopping at Burlington will save you so much money, you can afford to purchase not only the original item you wanted, but several items on top, for the same amount as that one item you originally coveted. But, the real beauty of the ads is that they tell you to go ahead and “brag about it.”

Burlington gives you permission, in fact emboldens you, to show off your smarts for being such a savvy shopper.

But, what they’re really doing is encouraging you to spread the word about Burlington’s savings for them. In effect, stretching their advertising dollar further through word of mouth. And that’s smart marketing.

Burlington Grad Party Commercial – Brilliant WOMM

Take their latest commercial, a spot where a graduating senior laments that she really would love to buy a summer graduation dress, but it costs $59. Smart mom says not to worry – she purchased practically the exact same dress for her daughter at Burlington, and saved so much, she picked up two swimsuits with the extra savings, one each for the grad and her punky kid brother.

The commercial also shows dad, comically setting the bar-b-que grill ablaze, while mom talks about the other great bargains she found. It ends — as do all ads in Burlington’s TV, print and online campaign — with the phrase, “Brag about it”… coincidentally, their corporate slogan.

This latest TV commercial is apparently so new, I can’t find it on Burlington’s web, Facebook or YouTube pages. I ultimately located it on Bing, under the title, “John DiGiorgio in his first commercial.” John apparently plays little bro in the Grad Party commercial. In any case, you can watch the video by clicking on the image, above.

More Word of Mouth TV Commercials

Have you seen any other examples of great word of mouth marketing used in TV commercials?

Of course, there are any number of comic, outrageous or just stunningly beautiful commercials created for TV, many created to first air during mega events like the Super Bowl® – with the hopes that people will talk about them, discuss their favorites, and generally keep the commercial going in conversation.

One of the first, and best, examples of that is the Apple® “1984” Big Brother commercial introducing the Macintosh® computer. That groundbreaking commercial was such a departure from standard advertising, so futuristic, so shocking, and so unusual in that it never even showed the product being advertised, that it had everyone talking about it following its one and only paid-for TV advertising spot that aired on January 22, 1984, during Super Bowl XVIII.

Actually, according to the Wikipedia® article, the TV commercial ran one other time, in December 1983 at 1:00 a.m. on an obscure local station, so as to qualify for participation in that year’s industry awards competition. Didn’t know that.

But, as you probably know, this Ridley Scott masterpiece was shown in news clips, over and over again for days, was written about extensively, and is still considered to be one of the best tv commercials ever made. Among its many awards, in 2007, it was honored as the best Super Bowl commercial in the game’s 40-year history. It pre-dates YouTube, blogs, and other forms of social media, otherwise it would have been a viral video, without question. Of course, it can now be found all over the internet, on dozens of channels across YouTube and Vimeo SM.

Interestingly, in 2004, Steve Jobs had this commercial re-mastered to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh computer, with the woman athlete now wearing an iPod®, starting the conversation going, all over again.

Word of mouth marketing is a facet of social media marketing, an entire industry onto itself, and there’s much to learn about it. If you’d like to learn more about how to use word of mouth marketing to your advantage, there are several good resources listed below.

Resources for Word of Mouth Marketing

Newsletters & Books

Groups and Associations

  • – “the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands.”
  • LinkedIn has several groups – try searching their groups for “Word of Mouth Marketing” and “Social Media Marketing”, as a start. There are also sub-groups dedicated to the same topics for B2B marketeers.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing Association – WOMMA is “dedicated to word of mouth marketing and social media.”

Word of Mouth Marketing Awards

Have you created a great WOMM or social media campaign you’d like to brag about? WOMMA is now accepting applications to their 2013 WOMMY awards. Entries are being accepted between June 3rd, 2013-August 23rd, 2013 – see to enter your campaign. Categories include awards for best product or service introduction, momentum of an existing product or service, engagement, social marketing, mobile marketing, cause marketing, research, and influencer program.

Apple, Inc. & Macintosh Info, Just for Fun

And just for fun, in researching this article, I tripped across some related info about Apple advertisements and products, too good not to share:

Even More Semi-Related Resources for Marketing Pros

Don’t miss WebDesignerDepot’s blog containing everything from how-to articles on web design, to free downloads of logo icons and vector art images.

A Few Notes

I am not affiliated with any of the companies, associations, people or websites listed here, other than as follows:

I am a huge fan of Andy Sernovitz, and was recently honored when he reposted my article, ‘The Brilliant “Most Viewed” Award from LinkedIn: Making Use of Top Marketing Tricks from Facebook” on his site. I also own a few shares of Apple stock, but not nearly enough for anyone to care.

(1) There are some commercials that run at no charge, as a public service announcements. Corporate commercials do not fall into that category.

“Brag About It” is a registered Service Mark of Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation in the US and other countries. Apple, iPod, and Macintosh are are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. YouTube is a trademark of Google, Inc. Super Bowl is a registered trademark owned by the National Football League. Vimeo is a Service Mark of Vimeo, LLC. Wilipedia is a registered trademark of The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.


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