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Are you ready for some viral marketing?

Jul 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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I realize the baseball season has barely started. It might seem a bit premature to start discussing football. As a Chicagoan, I'm not getting my hopes up. In fairness, the Sox did win the World Series in 2005. On the north side, the Cubs won their last pennant during the Roosevelt (Theodore) administration.

On to football. As Dennis Green reminded us in 2006, “The Bears are who we thought they were.” That was pretty much true of the Bears teams of my childhood, too.

“The Bears were pretty bad in the late 1960s and early 1970s and after Gale Sayers retired and before Walter Payton arrived,” concurs sportswriter Mark Potash. “All we had to root for in 1972 was Dick Butkus demolishing some poor running back and Bobby Douglass trying to become the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.”

They know their football in Hudson, WI

As a kid I turned to “Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer.” Jerry Kramer played left guard, generally an anonymous position. Quarterbacks, running backs, defensive backs safeties and even the referees enjoy more name recognition than the average offensive lineman. Kramer (with some help from co-author Dick Schaap) provided an account of the Packers 1966-67 season. As time ran down, Kramer threw the block that carried the Packers to victory over the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl of 1967. Instant replay had just been invented — Kramer's block was shown over and over again. I didn't know as much about the Vikings, but I did see a lot of Fran Tarkenton's highlights.

I was therefore intrigued to learn of a viral marketing case study involving both teams and their respective fans at a Wisconsin printer. You can find the “Resco Packer-Viking Rivalry in the Workplace Video” at

“We were overwhelmed with the response we received on our first effort,” reports John Knutson, president of the Hudson, WI, printer. “It's a compelling story — maybe this type of marketing could help others who are not only looking to grow their business but also to have some fun with their employees. Our efforts have added to our bottom line with several clients who called us specifically after seeing the video.”

Resco originally intended to produce a video holiday card. But the November 1, 2009, Packer-Viking game was too good to pass up. “Since our business is located on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, as you might imagine the allegiance is split about 50/50 for the Packers and the Vikings, which can make it fun … tense and annoying at times when the winners gloat and the losers cry,” explains Knutson. “But generally it's fun.”

Preparations began on October 20. One day later, the script was finalized and a shooting schedule was drafted. Using a Canon Vixia 30, Jeff Rybacki, web director, and Todd Giefer, art director, filmed the video on October 22. A rough draft was ready to go by Friday, October 23. After a few more tweaks, the video was uploaded on Monday, October 26. That first day, the Resco rivalry video drew 1,861 views. By mid-January, the video tallied 30,463 hits.

Resco reports:

  • a 274% increase in traffic to the company website.
  • 23,870 visitors to its YouTube page.
  • Hundreds of e-mails from clients and friends.

Local CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates picked up the story. MSNBC put the video on its site as its “Sports Video of the Day.” While the nationwide publicity was exciting, Knutson says it didn't compare to what was going on in the plant. The video was a real morale booster. “The employees thought it was fun to produce the video,” says Knutson. “They had even more fun dealing with the media and [resultant notoriety]. We received many e-mails and YouTube comments [to the effect]: ‘The video was awesome, you guys know how to have fun, I wish I worked for a company like that.’”

Wanted: John Facenda type to do video voiceover

Stay tuned, sports fans, because a sequel is in the works. “We had great fun putting this first viral marketing effort together and are working on [another] because of the number of requests we've had from viewers of the first piece,” says Knutson, “This includes the television stations, which are anticipating and requesting a second effort from us. The YouTube hits are now over 31,000 and continue to climb.”

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