When a Virus Is Used For Digital PR
Health problems and illnesses are one of the things which make us similar. However ways of treating them all over the world differ, just as companies use different ways to promote their medical products. But this blog post is about other types of viruses, which don’t require any treatment. The Ukrainian pharmaceutical industry, which is now taking its faltering steps from advertising to PR, has recently faced a new digital PR phenomenon, called Victor Gord. The link gord.com.ua will lead you to the blog of a young 15-year old Ukrainian businessman – Victor Gord. Mr. Gord owns a business, which he ‘created from nothing’, he is fabulously wealthy, takes care of his wife and child, provides jobs for 10 people working in his company etc … (it’s quite possible that he can even read our thoughts right now 🙂 ). And of course he can teach you how to become wealthy! Since March, when the blog was launched, Mr. Gord has been inviting visitors to share his extraordinary abilities by joining his business training courses. A pretty girl – one of Gord’s assistants – has been kindly chatting with numerous visitors, persuading them to attend business training with her teenager boss. ‘My name is Victor, I’m 15 and I want to make you better. After reading of the first sentence losers will close the page. They will die unlucky because they judge people by age. But I don’t need them. I need YOU – who gets at the root, who is ready to become interested and go on reading, who is ready to perceive and to act…’ The wunderkind has raised sharp discussion in the Ukrainian blogosphere. Some users admired him, while others, more experienced, concluded that Victor Gord was a part of viral campaign, created to promote certain business training. However, both views appeared to be wrong. In a month, Mr. Gord informed that he had signed an agreement to cooperate with Bayer Company, manufacturing Berocca vitamins . Vitamins were positioned as the main factor of the young wunderkind’s success. ‘My father was giving me Berocca, that’s why I’m so smart now’, – Mr. Gord reassures. Right now the blog contains some more details, revealing Who is Victor Gord in reality. The authors announce that the blog’s real aim was ‘to increase the awareness of vitamin pills Berocca and to create buzz about the product with limited financial costs’. And this aim was achieved. About two months ago, Gord’s campaign was presented at the Kyiv International Advertising Festival. The ISD Group – Gord’s so-called ‘parents’ – won the Golden prize in the PR campaigns section. The boy, who played the role of Viktor Gord, also participated in the presentation. He was hardly 13 years old, and read from notes in a halting manner, but tried hard to sustain the image of a self-confident businessman. Gords’ ‘creators’ have proudly reported that during the two month campaign:
- – Over 111 000 users visited Victor Gord’s site;
- – About 49 000 users viewed Gord’s videos;
- – Around 7 000 unique users contacted secretary via chat;
- – More than 260 publications were placed in blogs and forums (one article was published in Korrespondent magazine in May).
- – Over 12 500 unique users visited the Berocca site.
It is especially impressive that more than 600 people signed for Gord’s seminars. Unbelievable how many Ukrainians are willing to believe in fairy tales! However, despite such a success, there were a few strategic PR issues which Gord’s creators could not explain when asked by the Festival jury committee. First of all, they could not trace if their target audience – young men in the age segment from 25 to 45 years old – was reached. ISD group representatives assumed that Victor Gord might be of interest mainly for his age group. Secondly, it was difficult to estimate regional localization of Gord’s blog visitors. Given the fact that the majority of Ukrainian internet users are located in Kyiv, I daresay the campaign covered mainly the Kyiv region. The argument of limited regional coverage of online campaigns is often raised by pharmaceutical companies. When planning a digital campaign no one can guarantee that digital PR can reach mainstream audience across the whole Ukraine, due to the fact that 75% of internet users are concentrated in the capital. Another question is how Gord’s fans reacted once they found themselves mislead by Berocca? Will they still be interested in the vitamins when the Gord phenomenon is disclosed? Will they be loyal to the brand in the future? Finally, I also assume that around 30% of Victor Gord’s blog visitors were social media marketers and journalists, since the campaign was widely discussed by professionals. And if you’ve tried one of the links above, you have just increased this number. 🙂