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Big Ideas from Small Businesses

Today's keynote from George Wright, Vice-President Marketing and Sales at Blendtec, who brought us the unforgettable answer to the question, <a href="http://willitblend.com/">will it blend?</a>
Their most famous blend, an iPhone:
<object class="img-center" width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/7F_ZPhf1Bgw&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/7F_ZPhf1Bgw&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
What I didn't know was they sold the blended iPhone on eBay for around $1000 and donated it to a children's hospital.
Anyway, I digress.Blendtec was a brand that no one outside of commercial coffee houses and smoothie places knew about. They had a home blender that didn't sell very well because it was just one blender in a whole field of blenders.
Tom Dickson, founder and original engineer at Blendtec used to test the quality of his creations by chucking wooden beams into his blender to see if that would break them. Those at his company became used to his antics until George came along and thought that was the weirdest thing to do. With $50, he put together the first "Will it blend?". The rest, they say, is internet history.
The lessons they've learned about advertising revolves around the fact that advertising is no longer about spamming the heck of out of the collective consciousness of their "target audience". It's about producing entertaining content that people <strong>want</strong> to watch and demonstrates the actual product.
Similar to what <a href="/archives/2008/08/real-authentic.php">Gary Vaynerchuk said yesterday</a>, there is a need to be authentic and honest. Sony's foray into <a href="http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2006/12/11/new_sony_viral_marketing_ploy_angers_consumers.html">fake online enthusiasm</a> is a lesson everyone using new media needs to bear in mind. I've heard first-hand about multiple discussion forum accounts, planted comments, fake controversies. It may work for sites like <a href="http://www.xiaxue.blogspot.com/">Xiaxue</a> which thrives on heat, where the need to provide entertainment is greater than establishing credibility.
<strong>Update</strong>: Walter's written a <a href="http://coolinsights.blogspot.com/2008/08/transparent-marketing.html">good post about the need for transparency in marketing</a>.
George brought up an interesting point about Blendtec's campaign. Tom Dickson is the man in the lab coat in all the ads. He's being himself. Throwing crazy things in the blender is what Tom does even off camera. This makes his youtube character easily replicated – he needs only be himself at trade shows and conferences.
The campaign rose to prominence because it was interactive. George was taking in suggestions as to what else to throw inside a blendtec blender. He originally had people text him their suggestions, but the sheer volume of suggestions destroyed his phone by sending it on an endless vibrating tizzy. The iPhone was one such suggestion, and that made a huge difference.
These days traditional media contacts Blendtec, asking if they can embed the Blendtec story in their content. Companies are paying to have their products blended. The impossible has come true – Blendtec's marketing department is <strong>making money</strong>.
Blendtec used to be a small company in Utah. Now it's at the forefront of brand awareness.
Oh, and George blended a rake just before the question and answer.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/2765189173/" title="Will it blend? Rake by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3154/2765189173_8423b68218.jpg" alt="Will it blend? Rake" class="img-center" /></a>

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