The Marketing Story of Jenny and a Whiteboard

What makes something “go viral?”

That may be a question for  “Jenny,” an attractive girl who quit her office job through a series of photos with messages on a dry erase board. The photos were originally posted on theCHIVE.com (known for their viral hoaxes and pranks on the media) then spread like wildfire throughout the Internet, taking down almost every Twitter-er, blogger and Facebook-er on the web. By the end of the day, it was settled that the whole thing was a hoax. But, the brothers behind theCHIVE.com will be clearing the air and revealing more details about Jenny tomorrow.

I’m not so much interested in whether or not the story is a hoax but rather the marketing virility of Jenny and her whiteboard – the idea, components and execution that not only got the attention of tons of people on the web but is, what I believe, a beautifully executed viral campaign. Here are some of the components that I think made this story so viral:

1.  Attractive girl: This one is a no-brainer. Jenny is an attractive girl. Who doesn’t like looking at attractive girls? Next.

2.  Relatable: Almost anyone can sympathize with Jenny. She had high aspirations of being a broker and put up with her obnoxious boss’ temper, bad breath, and [insert any negative quality here]. Who hasn’t been in this position or at least had to listen to a loved one moan and groan about being in this position?

3.  Riding the trends: After yesterday’s theatrical JetBlue flight attendant meltdown, dramatic job exoduses are top of mind. Jenny was the cherry on amongst the sprinkles on top.

4.  Targeted seeding: In one of Jenny’s pictures, she notes her boss spent 5.3 hours a week reading TechCrunch, one of the most popular blogs about technology and startups. It’s only natural that TechCrunch would blog about it, which would lead to related blogs picking it up.

5.  Shareable: One of the most obvious components of viral videos but often overlooked – Jenny’s pictures on theCHIVE.com were highly shareable. Anybody who came across this blog post could seamlessly share it within a second and never look back.

Not only did those components make headlines today but they’re also a perfect example of any successful marketing campaign. It should be noted that the two other companies in Jenny’s slides were Farmville and Scottrade. Did the two companies have anything to do with Jenny and would I be surprised? Maybe and no.

Stay tuned for an update!

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