We chat with Christine Sunu about “nonsense marketing.” The idea of spending time and money on certain marketing efforts might seem frivolous or nonsense, but sometimes, these projects can break through the noise to create a viral sensation that gets talked about for years. Many experiential marketing campaigns fall into the category of nonsense marketing.
Nonsense marketing is the seemingly frivolous activities that marketers do that have a chance of “catching on” or “going viral.” For example, Wendy’s often provocative Twitter account is an example of nonsense marketing. It requires creativity and is often experiential.
Christine gives us some other examples of nonsense marketing, such as Ford’s Home of the Future project
. The purpose of these projects can be difficult to grasp sometimes if you’re not the intended audience.
Shawn gives the example of Bud Light’s “Whatever, USA” campaign
where the renowned beer company rented an entire town for a weekend to host a giant party for contest winners. The winners, rather than being drawn randomly, were selected based on personality and social media engagement, as the event was a targeted way to promote the brand through influencers.
To make nonsense marketing work, companies need to analyze their audience(s) to determine what kinds of authentic messaging works. If the messaging is missing or the content is inauthentic (e.g. using superficial aspects of viral videos without regard to the audience), nonsense marketing will likely fail.
Shawn talks about SparkFun's soldering activities as a form of nonsense marketing. The Badger Hack soldering activity
performed much better at SXSW Create (correction: Shawn says “SXSW Edu” in the show, but it should be “SXSW Create”) than the Roshamglo activity
at the larger SXSW conference. Christine comments that reaching a critical mass of interest is important and can be more easily achieved in a smaller group.
Harris gives the example of Lulzbot manufacturing 3D printers on the CES show floor one year, which attracted a lot of attention from attendees and the press. This helped drive engagement from distributors, which was the ultimate audience of the marketing effort.
We want to thank Twilio for sponsoring this episode! Twilio is a cloud platform that helps developers automate phone calls, text messages, and other communications through their web API. Check out twilio.com/go/helloblink
for more information about using Twilio for automated messaging and IOT applications.
List of Resources
Christine Sunu is a developer, designer, and creator who builds emotive interfaces and experiences. Though her main area of focus is the overlap between technology and human emotion, she has worked extensively in product, marketing, and design in both hardware and software. She has often worked with developer education and trending content, appearing in videos for outlets such as BuzzFeed and The Verge and helping to coordinate IoT-related content at Twilio. Among other things, Christine has created soft robots for anti-anxiety, produced trending tutorial builds about sourdough bread, levitated paramecium in giant magnetic fields, and attended half of medical school at Yale. She writes and speaks widely about human motivation and interactivity in hardware and connected interfaces, and she engages an international audience through online open-source tutorials.
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