Imagine a situation where you, as a marketer, set up ways to promote your product and your target audience comes by itself eager to shower attention at it. Better yet, imagine a situation where you get directly paid for your promotional efforts!
It may seem like a dream-come-true situation for marketers, but it is certainly not a rarity. And one of the better examples of these kinds of marketing efforts is by the well known television series ‘How I Met Your Mother’.
It all started with the repeated mention of Barney’s blog on the show which arose the curiosity of many viewers. To their surprise, an actual blog by the character was present on the CBS website and this blog went on attract huge volumes of hits worldwide after each show. But the viral marketing campaign did not stop there. During the course of the show, a lot of websites were mentioned from time to time which played a part in the course of the episodes (Examples are tedmosbyisajerk.com, barneysvideoresume.com, slapcountdown.com and itwasthebestnightever.com). All these websites were actually present on the web and generated millions of hits.
The obvious key advantage of this kind of promotion strategy is that it is one of most cost efficient means of promotion. If executed well, as was the case here, it has the potential to attract eyeballs from a big audience. Also, all these websites carried links to the CBS web-page of HIMYM. It might have been difficult to introduce people to a TV show but it certainly was easier to get people to log on to websites. The viral marketing campaign not only increased loyalty among those who followed the show, but also created interested among people who were not watching it.
That’s not all. The real master stroke was when the show makers actually released a book mentioned on the show ‘The Bro Code’, authored by the fictional character of Barney. With this release, the show not only augmented its own viewership but also created an additional line of income with the book. Both now became products that were assisting each other. This was an example of a tie-in, which is nothing but a product based on the media property of a company. These are not that uncommon (even the Garfield merchandize is an example of a tie-in). However, for a TV show to successfully pull off a tie-in, it is imperative that it have a huge fan following. In this sense, HIMYM’s online viral marketing assisted its tie-in offering wonderfully well.
Now that this strategy has worked wonders for HIMYM, I think it is safe to say that a lot of television shows might follow suit.