I am a longtime user of Gmail, Google’s free web-based email, and love it for many reasons that I won’t go into here (yet, at least). I remember Gmail’s launch a few years ago being one of the first web service launches that made use of the “by invitation only” marketing tactic (only your friends who use the service can invite you) to add cache to the service and build interest online.
Now Google has taken viral marketing a bit further, launching a “behind-the-scenes” video campaign to its userbase. Logging on to Gmail this morning, I saw a new option:
Clicking on the link took me to a campaign page:
The idea is simple and brilliant. You print out the Gmail M-velope (essentially the service’s brand mark), and then film a 10 second video where the envelope gets passed from left to right. After you upload the video, your clip might get selected and become part of the chain of clips that illustrates the email getting passed around the world. I’m sure once the final video is done, it will be heavily promoted through YouTube. Who knows, they may even pony up and air it on (gasp) regular television.
Developing this campaign will no doubt take very little investment from Google, and the end product will likely be fascinating – featuring creativity, scenery, and people from around the world. And it will be more effective because it will have been created by Gmail’s users, with an air of that word-of-mouth authenticity that people are starting to seek and prefer over corporate mass marketing.