Viral Marketing Strikes Again!

Have you heard? Did you see anything? What’s happened to Jack? 

These are the questions Jack In The Box is trying to get us to ask. With one Super Bowl commercial, depicting their CEO/mascot Jack getting hit by a bus, his iconic yellow hat thrown to the ground, his round, golf ball-like head cracked, his pointed nose in shambles, one thing is clear: Jack in the Box has gone viral.


Now what the campaign is trying to promote isn’t clear. The commercial sets us up, piquing our interest — but it doesn’t give any explanation. Instead, the final frame of the commercial directs you to A second commercial has aired since — of Jack heading into surgery.

Needless to say, after seeing these commercials at least once a day for the past week, I was curious. So with the click of a mouse, I was whisked away to the world of fast food-meets-viral marketing. 

At first glance, the website looks like a blog (and in fact, it is). But they are really getting into the story. The header reads, “Hang In There Jack,” there are “Wish Jack Well” posts and videos from various users. You can sign up for email and mobile updates on Jack’s status, send get well cards via snail mail.

Hang In There


And, oddly enough, the only sign of Jack in the Box (the restaurant, not the guy) is an image in the sidebar that states, “In lieu of sending flowers, please order anything on the menu (with a “see the menu” button that takes you to Jack would want it that way.” 

Finally, there are YouTube video entries posted daily from Jack in the Box officials, Jack’s “doctors”, and the paramedics and “witnesses” from the scene of the accident giving statements and reports. One post explains that photos from the scene were “found” on flickr. And of course, you can follow along via Twitter and Facebook. 

Whatever JitB is up to, if you look at the success of previous viral campaigns, they’re on the right track.


Many other companies and movies have utilized viral marketing campaign successfully.

In 2004, Burger King introduced “The Subservient Chicken”, an advertising program created to promote Burger King’s TenderCrisp chicken sandwich and their “Have it Your Way” campaign. The program featured a viral marketing website, TV, and print campaigns, plus a one-time pay-per-view program.

I missed this campaign, so I decided to check out “The Subservient Chicken” website, which is still up! It shows the chicken standing in a living room, and he performs any action you give him … just type it in. I typed “moonwalk” and sure enough, he moonwalked. The footage is obviously pre-recorded, but it comes off as an interactive webcam. The site was meant to be a literal representation of the advertising campaign’s slogan, “Get chicken just the way you like it.”

Burger King's Subservient Chicken Campaign


In 2007, Transformers movie-goers saw an enticing teaser trailer for a movie — but the only details they got on the film were the name of the production company (J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot productions) and the release date — 1-18-08.

What followed were numerous Google searches on this mysterious movie, fanatic blogs, and massive speculation. Was it a spin-off of Lost, another J.J. Abrams creation? Was it a new film about Godzilla? But for months, the movie’s creators never gave anything away.

And with that, the viral marketing campaign got into full swing. Puzzle websites popped up that claimed to be a part of the film. The movie’s official website,, featured a collection of time-coded photos — their meaning was to be interpreted and pieced together by visitors. Eventually, the name was released: Cloverfield. In one of the last aspects of the viral campaign, MySpace pages were created for the movie’s fictional characters, and websites were created for the fictional companies referenced in the film. Cloverfield was viral marketing at its finest.

Cloverfield Movie Poster had quotes from Cloverfield execs. Producer Bryan Burk explained the viral tie-in, “[It] was all done in conjunction with the studio … The whole experience in making this movie is very reminiscent [of] how we did Lost.” Director Matt Reeves was quoted as saying “the Internet stories and connections and clues are, in a way, a prism and they’re another way of looking at the same thing. To us, it’s just another exciting aspect of the storytelling.”

The movie saved countless dollars on advertising — because they didn’t need it. By leaking little bits of information, they had created a massive word-of-mouth marketing campaign so great, most theaters were sold out on opening weekend and the weeks that followed, all anyone did could talk about was Cloverfield.


With the economy in a deep recession, and companies looking for more economical methods of marketing, consider alternatives like viral marketing. With the right product, concept, and plan, it can be extremely cost-efficient and generate serious buzz — more than you’d get with plain old print ads. Don’t believe me? Just ask Jack.


From D.C. to “The District” — Newsweek Spoofs Hit MTV Show

If you’ve ever read a tabloid, celebrity magazine, watched MTV, or talked to a teenage girl, chances are you’ve heard of “The Hills” and “The City.” Whether you think the shows are mindless drivel or actual entertainment is your own opinion, but there’s no doubt that they make for great spoofs.

Enter Newsweek. 

Riding on the coattails of Obama’s inauguration (and cashing in on his monstrous popularity), Newsweek has created a spoof of “The City” called “The District.” The 6-episode sereies follows Barack as he begins his journey as president…and takes on the Republicans and the economic crisis with the help of his former “frenemy” Hillary and loyal bff Joe.

As one of those people who never misses an episode of “The Hills,” I thought “The District” was hilarious and completely on point.

See for yourself!

Wondering What Your Customers Are Thinking?

Ask them!!

Here is a cool resource for custom online/mobile surveys: … and it’s free!

This website has a lot of great features. It allows you to create surveys with advanced reporting, PowerPoint charts, skip logic, custom branding and more. There are three different membership tiers; and the free membership gives you access to the basic tools you need to create a survey of up to 300 responses.

I gave it a test drive and can honestly say that creating the survey is REALLY easy and there are tons of options. You can create pull down menus, multiple choice questions, organize the question order with a drag and drop feature, and preview the survey just as your recipient would see it. 

So if you ever need to create a poll or a survey, check out their site … or have Oya do it for you! Screenshot

Politicians Get Social

As the social networking wave continues to grow, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are attracting more than just party-seeking college kids and chatty tweens.

In February 2007, a young political official wondered social networking might help him take on a battle for high leadership.

His hope was that social networking, with its unmatched communications and database capabilities, would help him overcome tremendous odds.

I guess Barack Obama was right.

Obama’s election campaign was record-breaking in more ways than one. Not only did he become the first African-American presidential nominee in U.S. history; he also rallied an unprecedented number of volunteers — over 8 million, and received a record amount in donations  around $750 million, finishing with over $100 million in the bank.

His campaign’s success may have been a direct result of his grass-roots campaign strategies – and a clever use of the internet and social networking, which provided a constant flow of communication between his team and voters. He was able to get in touch with the American people in a more direct, personal way.

My mom, an ardent Obama supporter and campaign volunteer, would receive emails from Obama and his wife, Michelle constantly throughout the election. Obviously, these were mass emails sent by his team, but they were addressed to my mother and “signed” by Obama. It was a small, personal touch that mattered.

When I last logged in to my Facebook account, there were over 500 Obama-based groups, including “Obama Democratic Club of Silicon Valley” (322 members), “Obama for President!!!” (40,997 members), and “One Million Strong for Barack” (978,826 members).

And after he was elected and inauguration planning began, Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) launched a campaign-style social networking web site, Screenshots

On the homepage, you can sign up for inauguration e-mail alerts; and then you’re automatically directed to get your friends to sign up too. And for mobile users, they created PICMobile, where you can text HISTORY to 56333 and get inaugural updates “wherever you are.”

The PIC even created an inaugural blog, which covered the inauguration plans and events; now it posts photos sent in by people who attended the inauguration.

And if you scroll down to the bottom of the sidebar, you’ll see an area called “Connect,” with links to YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr.

Yes, Tumblr was new to me, too!

Social networking will likely be a big part of Obama’s presidency, and I think people are ready to embrace a social president. At least I know I am; mental note: post my inauguration pics on the PIC blog and investigate Tumblr.

My Inauguration Trip: Thawing Out and Looking Back

It’s definitely good to be home. While I love almost everything about the East Coast, and hope to live there one day, I appreciate the 60 degree nights of California! 

But now that I’m home, and the inauguration buzz has diminished, I’m able to reflect on my trip. I still can’t believe that I was a ticketed guest to the inauguration of our country’s first Black president. And it was even more special because I was able to share the experience with one of my closest friends, Amanda, who I’ve known since pre-school.

Also, the fact that I’m a graduate of SJSU’s school of Journalism and won the tickets because of my writing was icing on the cake. 🙂

The first person I told after I won the tickets was my mother. To say she was thrilled/overjoyed/excited/ecstatic are understatements. She called everyone she knew to share the news. In the week before I left, she called me every night to ask had I packed yet. She requested up-to-the-minute text messages with updates about what I was doing, and where I was going. She was my guest to Congressman Honda’s reception ceremony for the ticket winners. She experienced the inauguration vicariously through me, which was fine with her because she hates the cold. 

And boy was it cold.

The trip, even before the inauguration, was amazing in so many ways. I’d never visited Amanda in North Carolina, so it was nice to have that opportunity. And making the four-hour drive with her to D.C. was an adventure of its own. We saw Alice Walker, the “Refresh the World” Symposium, even just walking around Howard University (I almost went there) it was all wonderful and unplanned, which made it even better. 

The morning of the inauguration is its own memory: Waking up at 4am (having gone to bed only 2 hours earlier as we were too excited to sleep); pulling on layer, after layer, after layer … after layer of clothes to keep from freezing; rushing through the pitch-black city to the Metro, transferring trains and platforms with other inauguration-goers in a mad frenzy; fighting our way through the crowd UNRULY MOB in the Metro station, hands linked tight so we wouldn’t lose each other; running to the Silver Gate entrance (I admit that I was disappointed that we were so far away, as some other ticket winners from the contest were much closer); and finally waiting, along with thousands of others, the momentum and spirit (and size!) of the crowds building as each hour passed.

7.5 hours after waking up and 3.5 hours after getting to our viewing spot, the festivities finally began. I was relieved for many reasons, but mainly because it was the climax of weeks of waiting for this trip, months of Obama and countless other Americans campaigning for his election, and decades of civil rights tension and fights for equality in the African-American community; and also because my toes were cold numb frozen and I was in PAIN. (They took a day and a half to heal!)

The inauguration of Barack Obama was incredible, both historically and for me personally. I know how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to go and be a part of it. Watching him take the oath of office was such a proud moment, for me, my family, and everyone around us huddled together … it was the culmination of everything our country — and the African-American community (my community) — has worked for. We all cheered when we caught a glimpse of Barack Obama on the viewing screen at the ceremony, but during his speech, all 2 million of us were silent. It reminded me of election night, when a much older, African-American woman standing next to me proclaimed, “this is our new Dr. King.”

Looking back, I was right in thinking that the trip would go by too quickly … but I will keep these memories with me forever. And one day, when I have children, I will share these memories with them. Because I was one of a few who were able to go to D.C. and I was one of few who had tickets. And I would not trade the experience for anything in the world.

Inauguration Day Recap!

Here are some pics from inauguration day!

Inauguration Day

5am: On the Metro to the inauguration

Inside the Federal Center Metro station

5:30am: Inside the Federal Center Metro station

Inauguration Day

6:30am: In line at the silver gate entrance

Inauguration Day

It was so early, the sun hadn’t come up yet!

Inauguration Day

The sun finally came up … you can see the crowd below the Capitol building growing.

Inauguration Day

It was SO cold. My feet froze by 6:30am!

Inauguration Day

Standing on the Reflecting Pool after the inauguration ceremony.


INAUGURATION DAY: My best friend Amanda and I had planned to wake up around 5am and head to the National Mall; but at 4am that morning, the news was reporting that Metro trains were already packed. So we got out of the door as quickly as possible! 

It wasn’t crowded really until we got off the train at Federal Center. I have NEVER seen that many people in one station! There was a line snaking across the platform just to get up the escalator! 

Once we exited the station, it was an exodus to the Capitol building. We had to wait in line at the Silver Gate entrance for about an hour and a half — and it was FREEZING!!!

Around 8am, we made our way to the standing area of our section. We were right at the edge of the Reflecting Pool. While we could see the Capitol building very clearly and the crowds below, we were too far to get good pics of Obama and other officials. Still, we were closer than most. The general public crowd extended past the Washington monument!

Once the ceremony was over, people started to cross the Reflecting Pool! It was frozen over, but it wasn’t THAT cold…so everyone was afraid it might break. But at that point, the crowd started to surge towards the Pool! And we surged with it. Suddenly, we’re on the ice, crossing over to the other side! It was SO fun (definitely a trip highlight) and we both got our pics in front of the Capitol … until the ice started to crack. Then it was a mad dash to the other side. Once my feet were on solid ground, I almost died laughing!

Getting home, however, was no laughing matter. The crowds that flooded the National Mall were now flooding the Metro stations. All of them. We didn’t get back to Kim’s house for a few hours, and I immediately went to sleep. LOL. 

We drove back to North Carolina that night, and I spent today recuperating. I head back to California tomorrow. It’ll be good to be home — and out of the cold!

What A Day!

WOW. That’s all I can say. The inauguration ceremony was absolutely amazing. And the crowd…there were so many people of every age and race; it was quite a sight.

I have some great pics and stories, but I’m recuperating at the moment and need to sleep desperately. And we’re driving back to N.C. right now.

But I will say this: I’m leaving with some amazing memories. And some seriously aching feet. 🙂