Monday, November 26, 2007

Is Yours Here? Dell's Holiday "Wish"

So...does celebrity advertising really work? And will virtual "begging for money" get you to your end goal? Better yet, if you have a celebrity do the begging for you, will you fare better than just asking yourself? Dell is hoping for success with this concept with their recently launched holiday campaign called “Wish.” The Wish campaign includes print ads, videos, a series of television commercials directing customers to and a temporary Dell store in New York’s Times Square.

While watching football games over the holiday weekend, I saw the Dell T.V. commercial starring Burt Reynolds several times. But the commercial itself didn't get me to go check out the website. Actually, after seeing it, I was kind of confused. I knew there was a website, but I didn't understand its purpose. All I got out of the commercial was "see some stars sell stuff...get a soft sell from Brooke Burke." And since the celebs weren't intriguing to me, I wasn't curious enough to check it out. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention to the commercial (after all, studies have shown people in my generation tend to avoid ads). It wasn't until my boyfriend (who was researching a new computer online) checked out the YoursIsHere site that I knew what the commercial was trying to get me to do - to have a celebrity ask your family/friends to make a donation to your Dell fund.

Today I visited the website to check it out and learned the steps to the whole "celebrity seller" process:

  • First, you select the Dell product you want to get (notebook, desktop computer, personal electronics (like digital cameras or portable navigation systems)).
  • Next you select the celebrity (Chuck Liddell (ultimate fighting champion), Burt Reynolds, Brooke Burke, Vivica Fox, Ice-T, Estelle Harris (a.k.a. George Cosanza’s mother on Seinfield)) you want to make a sales pitch on your behalf.
  • Then you set up a virtual piggy bank via PayPal (but only if you’re over 18).
  • Finally, you can post a "fundraising widget" tracking your piggy bank's progress to MySpace or Facebook, and send e-mail links with the celebrity sales pitch video to your family and friends.

See below for an example of the Dell Fund Tracker that you can add to Facebook or MySpace:

Here are some of my thoughts about the website/campaign/concept:
  • Regarding Dell's overall campaign, I'm unsure how successful it will be due to a few misalignments between the internet tendencies of requesting parties and donors. I would assume this website would appeal most to teens thru mid-late 20-somethings who use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. If we eliminate the under 18 age group (you have to be 18+ to have a PayPal account), we could figure most of the parents and relatives of these individuals are at least 40 years of age, and many probably older. Pew Internet and Life Project estimates only 59% of ages 30-49 have internet access, 40% of those 50-64, and 15% of 65+. So I doubt grandma will be contributing to your fund unless someone helps her out.
  • The widget concept for tracking donation progress keeps up with the latest trends. After all, widgets are hot...even Newsweek declared 2007 the "Year of the Widget." So, sure some people might find it cool to share the progress they are making in getting your new laptop, camera, etc. However, if your relatives are the ones you are asking to contribute, chances are they aren’t checking MySpace –or- Facebook to see how close you are to your goal. And I'm not sure I'd want to share with my friends how close I was to getting a new computer or a camera...or let everyone on MySpace/Facebook know about my finances. But that's just me.
  • Although I think the campaign execution could be improved, the concept itself is innovative. The fundraising concept is interactive, and offers some personalization (i.e. you can select one of six celebs). It does lend itself to being slightly co-creative with the customer (as in the customer is creating their own, unique Dell experience). Although it’d probably be even cooler if you could really personalize it (think Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” for inspiration). Better yet, Dell could have enabled users to send completely customized messages to their potential donors. For example, users could upload their own video sales-pitch (via YouTube) or upload a photo to go along with a personalized note. After all, I would think mom or grandpa would rather hear the request from you than from someone they don't know (especially a B/C list celebrity). Even your sister/brother/boyfriend/girlfriend would probably rather hear from you.
  • The part of the site I think is brilliant is the ability to set up a virtual "piggy bank" via PayPal. Dell is on to something with this and I think other retailers (and PayPal) should start thinking about making this a standard customer offering. Why? It might help reduce consumer waste due to unused/lost/unwanted gift cards and encourage consumers to buy bigger ticket items. TowerGroup estimated $8 Billion was lost last year due to expired/lost/forgotten-about gift cards and Consumer Reports said 27% of card recipients have not used at least one card they have received. The virtual piggy bank not only allows people to get something they really want for Christmas (or potentially some other occassion), but it puts all of the cash into one place with the recipient to use towards their desired purpose. I could see tons of uses for this PayPal feature. For example, it could simplify high school graduations - the graduate wouldn't have checks to deposit and could transfer the money directly from PayPal into their bank account. And think of how it could change weddings - instead of having a wedding registry, a bride and groom could post some photos of things they're planning to buy (or a list) and have a place for people to make a monetary gift ilo sending gift cards or bulky boxed items. Of course, you might have some issues with grandma trying to use it, but with technology there are always learning curves.

So, based on all of this, my feedback to Dell is: tweak the execution to allow for more personalization; offer the feature year-round (because once the trend catches on I think it'll become a norm); lose the cheesy, B/C list celebrities unless you want consumers to think of Dell as B/C list too.

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