Case Study: Dissecting the Dell Regeneration Graffiti Facebook Campaign

Situation
The market pressure to create technology products that protect or at least damage their impact to the environment continues to grow. Sustainability and green-tech campaigns are coming from nearly every tech company –esp hardware manufactures. Dell is no exception and launches this Regeneration campaign.


[Dell Leaned on an Active Artist Community In Facebook to Create, Vote, Self-Regulate what it "Means to be Green" Regeneration Campaign]

Goals
I’ve not spoken with the Dell marketing team, but it’s pretty obvious this is a campaign helps to help improve Dell products to be more eco-friendly, and of course, spur affinity torwards the brand from green leaning consumers, the ReGeneration site has more details.

Strategy
Dell Computers, along with Federated Media (A social media marketing agency), and Graffiti Wall (A popular self-expression Facebook application), deployed an interactive marketing campaign that encouraged existing Graffiti artists to be involved in a contest that spurred a member created campaign resulting in affinity towards Dell. The artists were encouraged to ‘own’ the message, their creativity would spur a contest, and would continue to fuel the campaign.

Tactics
I was briefed by James Gross, who shares his thoughts mid-flight, a Director at Federated Media, as well as CEO John Battelle (interview), and they explained the contest to me.

1) Existing application with thriving community

Graffiti is a self-expression application in Facebook. It has popular (rated 4 out of 5 stars) Based on 242 reviews, and has 177,506 daily active users. Rather than creating a new application, this campaign took advantage of an application –and community–that already existed.

2) An art contest: What does Green mean to you?

Facebook members who used Graffiti were encouraged to join in a contest to win a 22″ environmentally friendly Dell monitor (appropriate for artists) to create art around the theme of “What does Green mean to you?” The contest lasted for one week

3) Engaged contributors spur theme
Over 7000 pieces of artwork were created and submitted to the contest. If you watch the replay of the art being created, you’ll see hidden messages (like easter eggs) from the artists as they discuss what green means to them. Many of the drawings had the Dell logo or the regeneration logo embedded in it. The Regeneration microsite promotes a few contributors.

purple-froggreen-grassbutterfly

4) Self Regulation
There were few negative pics that would detract from the campaign, as the community of existing artists will self-regulate and vote off pics that were not appropriate.

5) Community Voting and Winners Announced

Voting began on the second week by the members and over one million votes were cast. The winners were from United States, Canada, Sweden and Maldives. You can see the actual winners here, or click image.

Results
The campaign was a success, thousands of engaged members participated, created the campaign on behalf of Dell (similar to the Chevy Tahoe campaign a few years ago), and the community was rewarded. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll guess the majority of the campaign dollars were spent creating the microsite, then hiring FM, and working with Graffiti. The monitors, were likely less than a $1000 each.

  • Over 7300 Graffitis created from Jan. 16th-Jan 23rd around the theme of “What Does Green Mean to You”
    Over 1150 fans of the contest
  • Over 1,000,000 votes were logged from Jan. 26th-Jan.31st for the artwork. (Here are the Top 150 based on votes)
  • Over 1,000 ideas have now been submitted over at ReGeneration.org
  • 209 comments to the post at ReGeneration.org
  • Over 197 blog mentions in Technorati
  • What could have been better
    When it comes to social media, the mentality of short lived campaigns should go away. Communities existed before a brand reaches to them and after the campaign stops. Marketers should plan for long term engagements with these people, rather than short two week spurts. There was clearly traction here and now’s the time to step on the gas and continue forward.

    Secondly, the artwork created by the winners (and runner ups) should be included in future products, such as digital wallpapers, in the primary branding for Dell, and even the artists should be given an option to continue as sponsored artists. With the relationship forming, take it to the next level. Encourage artwork to be part of next generation green computers, with proceeds going to non-profits or back to the artists to continue forth.

    Thirdly, the campaign was limited to Facebook, which isn’t the extent of artists on the web, as well as limited to other social networks such as Bebo or MySpace where similar communities can be found. The contest should have been created not just within the walls of a closed gardens, but also spread to the open web.

    Summary
    Unlike most marketing campaigns that deploy heavy ads, fake viral videos, or message bombardment, this campaign let go to gain more. Overall, this is a successful campaign as they turned the action over to the community, let them take charge, decide on the winners, all under the context of the regeneration campaign. The campaign moved the active community from Facebook closer to the branded Microsite, closer to the corporate website, migrating users in an opt-in manner that lead to hundreds of comments was clever. Well done.

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    • Dave Huston

      I like this idea, and it’s certainly popular these days. Letting the people advertise your product for you is certainly cost-effective and those who aren’t supporters already are more likely to become so when other “average” people are advertising it rather than the company itself.

    • Mary Greening

      This is brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.mytechnologycompany.com Trevor Speirs

      Great case study!
      I think it is that concept of continued engagement that marketers will be challenged to adapt to. We are used to building brief “campaigns” and going from one to the next.
      Planning an ongoing campaign is doable, but it presents a significant time commitment.
      Is the answer we simply need more manpower, or are there tricks we can use to manage this type on ongoing engagement. I would love to hear anyone else’s experience or tips.

    • http://berthart.blogspot.com/ Bert Hart

      As you emphasized, the real mistake with this project was in limiting its longevity. Maybe the following ideas would have helped sustain the contest’s impact:

      - Use the winners’ artwork to promote the campaign

      - Publish interviews with the contest winners to a blog or facebook page, giving readers a closer look at the ideas that created the art

      - Host a second contest, perhaps in a different artistic medium such as songwriting or interactive flash media (and ask participants to base their works on the first contest’s art)

      What other ways might they have expanded the project to prolong its life?

    • http://jamesgross.com James Gross

      Hi Brett–

      All very valid points.

      At the first one, we are already doing this. We created video ads out of the creative that are still running across sites outside of Facebook and pointing back to regeneration.org.

      You can see an example of the crowd sourced creative here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMBUZrNL1j4

      At your third point. Check back in a few weeks. :)

    • http://www.freezinghot.com Dave

      Great post, posting a link on my blog. Well worth the read!

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    • thomas

      j, a similar approach (site + fm + intel) was done at blue.popurls.com

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    • Evette

      I think it’s interesting to note that the video showcases the winners of the second contest, not the first one. I hadn’t realized until I saw the first contest winners and noticed that they weren’t the same as those in the video. This second contest’s theme is “What will a green future look like? And how can we go green now?”

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    • http://www.wundermarx.com Cara Good

      Great example of the integration of social media, public relations and branding. We’ve had good success with similar campaigns. What do you think about a charity tie in? While the chief objective was to creative affinity for Dell, there’s no reason a nonprofit could not have derived some benefits, too. By selecting the right nonprofit partner, the campaign could have had greater traction.

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    • http://www.computerandgadgets.com/ Computer Parts

      Dell just can not seem to regain much traction. Their brand has become such a commodity that I'm not sure how far back they can come. Unlike HP who has good penetration in other peripherals dell is still seen mainly as a PC company only.

    • http://www.computerandgadgets.com/ Computer Parts

      Dell just can not seem to regain much traction. Their brand has become such a commodity that I'm not sure how far back they can come. Unlike HP who has good penetration in other peripherals dell is still seen mainly as a PC company only.

    • http://bosmol.com Social Media

      It is nice to see that companies like Dell are trying to go green and become more eco friendly.  This should be encouraged amongst multiple companies