Cup of Joe: Naughty USB Drives, Mickey Mouse, & Volkswagen all Teach a Lesson in Fun!
A few days ago my father emailed me the above video. It’s from a project called the The Fun Theory. The Fun Theory is basically a group that is using various crowd sourcing techniques to help brainstorm ideas that make common everyday tasks fun–in an effort to change people’s behavior for the better. It can be for the betterment of the environment, your neighborhood, or yourself. I like the concept because they ask one of the most important questions, that is often times left out of the equation, “is it fun?”
Before I started my own business, I was the IT guy at a real estate company. One of my tasks while there, was to develop an internal lead management system that we could use to evaluate incoming leads. The primary person responsible for using this system was a woman that had just returned to work after suffering the tragic loss of her teenage daughter in a car accident. From experience I knew that data entry is a very dismal task even for someone that hadn’t suffered a devastating life change. Therefore, I decided to code this system a little bit differently. After she had input a new lead into the system, the application would literally tell her a joke. All of the jokes were very corny and most were scraped from stupid websites, but despite that it worked! She loved the system, and it ended up being one of the tasks she would complete first during her day. The system was not only functional, but also fun.
OK so don’t worry, despite the fact that I have already admitted to being a hippie. I am not going to force you to sing kum bi ya and hold hands. No, I have not forgotten, this is a marketing blog and we need to talk about money.
Is fun profitable?
I don’t have any numbers to support this theory (give me a break I am a snarky blogger, not a scientist), but I am willing to bet that fun can be extremely profitable! Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Google Image Labeler – This is a cool little game, developed by Google, where the user is paired up with another and both must try to guess the same tags of an image shown. It’s incredibility addicting, and if you are as geeky as I am, fun too! However, “fun” isn’t the function. Every time you add a tag to the image you are inadvertently helping Google tag and organize all of the images in its index, thus improving Google’s Image Search feature.
Funny USB Drives – You know those little key chain sized USB drives? Well, some companies have started to develop them in the shape of all sorts of things. Take a look at this one and tell me that isn’t fun!
Disney – In this example “fun” is the function! Pretty much everything that Disney does is entertainment centered. When “fun” is the function, the rules change a bit because we aren’t marketing the product through a fun experience, rather we are creating a fun experience only.
Volkswagen – So the most obvious example of fun from Volkswagen would be its classic Beetle. If you talk to anyone that owns one of those they will tell you that they absolutely love it. But if you want a more recent example of how Volkswagen is using fun, go back to The Fun Theory that we discussed above and you will notice that Volkswagen is the project’s chief sponsor. Um, why would Volkswagen sponsor a silly project like that? Because, it helps them continue their brand as the feel good, fun loving company that hippies love! And, because it gets them exposure! Remember when I said that my dad sent me that video? Well, when I say video, I mean it! He didn’t send me the YouTube link. He sent me a 7MB video file, attached!! He took the time to figure out how to do that (I have no idea who taught him) because he wanted to make damn sure I got it! That type of brand exposure is extremely powerful!
All of the above are examples of Experience Marketing (via). Experience Marketing is a tactic that puts the consumers’ experience at the forefront of the design and development process. For folks that dabble in Experience Marketing, function isn’t the only end use. Details such as aesthetics, design, and concept also play a crucial role. These products are meant to be “experienced” just as much (if not more) as they are meant to be “used”.
So, if you want to try out Experience Marketing for yourself, take a look at your products and ask yourself, “are they fun?”