Viral ad nets PR firm Groundhog's Day exposure

NEW YORK: Sharp Communications has parlayed a uniquely American holiday into a lead generator for the firm.

NEW YORK: Sharp Communications has parlayed a uniquely American holiday into a lead generator for the firm.

On the morning of February 2, the company sent a viral ad with a Groundhog's Day theme to editors and contacts - in lieu of their traditional Christmas card.

The agency, which usually averages 50 unique users to its website a day, found itself deluged with 2,160 unique visitors for the day. More than 3,000 people have viewed the video so far.

The e-mail efforts were aided by a mention in CNN.com's "Showbuzz" section, the result of a pitch by the agency. Brodsky says that he has already received four solid business inquires, including a query from a man in the Netherlands who wants to launch a razor in the US.

The viral ad portrayed a life-sized groundhog going about an average working day at the Sharp office. The groundhog finally makes it to his desk, where he picks up the phone. The tagline is: "300 million people are waiting for a rodent to predict the future. Do you have something to say?"

The idea came out of Sharp's weekly Thursday meeting where staff discusses how best to promote the firm. During the Christmas season, the agency discussed what it should send contacts for Christmas.

"It was too cluttered a time, and thus, we wouldn't be able to differentiate ourselves," Sharp said, referring to the traditional Christmas Card. "We loved Groundhog's Day because it's so absurd; people are paying attention to this creature who's supposed to predict the weather."

He added: "We leveraged the absurdity of the groundhog being an opinion leader, saying, 'If this can be an opinion leader, why can't you?'"

The agency posted an advertisement for a director on craigslist.org and went with a man named Ben Bowman. The whole campaign cost $1,000.

"[Because] we're a full-service comms agency and we do advertising, we were able to produce the ad ourselves and publicize it through our expertise in PR," Brodsky said. "Even if we printed a Christmas card and sent it to all of our contacts, it would have cost just as much."

To see the ad, click here.

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