7 of our favorite word of mouth stories from 2012

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As we head into the holidays, we wanted to take a minute to look back at some of the incredible stories that got us talking in 2012. Here is a very brief list of our favorites from the word of mouth movement this year:

1. The Troy Public Library book burning
2. The 7-Election
3. A toy giraffe’s day at The Ritz-Carlton
4. Virgin America’s Nerd Bird
5. Bodyform’s Facebook response
6. Rackspace sends a hungry customer a pizza
7. Old Spice and Taco Bell’s Twitter banter

1. The Troy Public Library book burning

In Troy, MI, unless voters approved a small tax increase, the Troy Public Library was on the chopping block for funds. But well-organized, well-funded Tea Partiers in town had made the vote about taxes, not the library, and it seemed the library was doomed. That is, until creative agency Arc Worldwide pulled a crazy word of mouth stunt before the vote: plans for a book burning party.

Learn more: Boing Boing

2. The 7-Election

This word of mouth tradition from 7-Eleven is awesome, and this year was no exception. (Remember, if you have a great word of mouth topic, keep it going.) They let their customers vote for the presidential election with their coffee cups by choosing the one with their favorite candidate on it. They broadcasted real-time stats for different cities and even got The Onion to do some 7-Election video coverage. Best of all, it was easy to share with videos, downloads, social media elements, and the cups themselves.

Learn more: 7-Eleven

3. A toy giraffe’s day at The Ritz-Carlton

At The Ritz-Carlton, sending back left-behind items to their guests isn’t just a normal part of business, it’s a chance to make a great impression. For example, when one little boy forgot his giraffe, instead of shipping the toy back with a nice note, the Ritz-Carlton sent him back with stories to tell. They took pictures of the giraffe all over the hotel: enjoying a massage, relaxing by the beach, and helping out the Loss Prevention Team. The boy’s dad was so delighted, he made a video testimonial.

Learn more: Brains On Fire

4. Virgin America’s Nerd Bird

Virgin America sold a charter flight to the Consumer Electronics Show on Gilt Groupe that offered something dramatic: a round-trip flight for 136 people, tickets to the show, and some pretty cool perks. For example, the plane would be decorated in a special decal of their choice for one month. This wasn’t just a one-off word of mouth gimmick — it was a stunt with a relevant connection to what they do for the people they want talking about them.

Learn more: Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That!

5. Bodyform’s Facebook response

When one man took his complaint against the misleading happy-go-lucky ads for Bodyform’s feminine products to Facebook, the humorous rant became viral. Bodyform could have written back a polite reply and let this moment pass. Instead, they took this opportunity to show off their sense of humor and gain tons of respect from everyone watching. They replied to the Facebook post with a personal response from a fake Bodyform CEO full of jabs at stereotypical feminine hygiene commercials.

Learn more: TechCrunch

6. Rackspace sends a hungry customer a pizza

We’ve all been on those marathon calls with customer service representatives trying to work out a complicated problem. But if you’re on the phone with a Rackspace customer service rep, something amazing might happen. For example, one guy was on just such a call when the Rackspace employee overheard him tell a friend he was hungry. So she quietly put him on hold and ordered a pizza to be delivered to his address. She was still on the phone with the customer when there was a knock on the door. “Go answer it,” she said, “it’s your pizza.”

Learn more: Net Promoter

7. Old Spice and Taco Bell’s Twitter banter

Taco Bell and Old Spice have little to do with one another, except that they’re not afraid to show their sense of humor. In a fun exchange between the two on Twitter, they called each other out on stuff like if “Fire Sauce” was actually made with fire or if Old Spice was made of really old spices. The conversation was silly, and it had nothing to do with their stuff, but it did say a lot about their brands’ personalities.

Learn more: Adweek


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  1. Mark Bonchek

    The Troy book-burning story is certainly creative, but it seems to violate some of the Word of Mouth ethical guidelines. According to the article, the campaign was a “hoax” in which the agency “posed as a clandestine group who urged people to vote to close the library so they could have a book burning party.” According to the WoM guidelines, there should be “no stealth,” and “no deception,” with “true identity” and “full disclosure.” I’m curious what others think about this one …

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