MailChimp: Marketing’s surprise viral sensation of 2014 – Part 2

Pretend it’s one of those “mail … chimp” guys from the ad.

The MailChimp story, which we discussed last week, is sure to become a legacy in the annals of radio advertising. But how did it get there?

First, let’s go over what the ad actually is, because it’s shockingly simple. The 20-second spot opens with seven different voices pronouncing the word “MailChimp” (with varying degrees of success, to listeners’ delight). Then an announcer reads: “Support for ‘Serial’ comes from MailChimp. More than 7 million businesses around the world use MailChimp to send emails, newsletters, and deliver high-fives. MailChimp: Send better email.” As the sound fades out, women are overheard discussing the service: “I actually use MailChimp.” “You do?”

Suffice it to say, this is not scripting genius at play. (The ad was written by MailChimp and produced by “Serial,” with producers hitting the streets of NYC to record strangers repeating the now-famous name). The main theory is that the world’s love of “Serial” transferred over to MailChimp purely by happenstance. This is probably aided by the fact that many people began binge-listening to the show about halfway through as word-of-mouth perpetuated its popularity, causing people to hear the ad on repeat. Also, the show is known to have been listened to more than once by a large part of its audience, again memorable thanks to repetition.

How did MailChimp respond to its sudden success?

The biggest teller is the fact that has already been purchased and now redirects to So it’s clear that the company is not only in on the joke, but is poised to collect as much benefit from this immense attention as possible.

In an interview with The Atlantic in November 2014, MailChimp Marketing Director Mark DiCristina explained the ramifications for the company: “Hundreds and hundreds of people everyday are using the #MailKimp hashtag, which is pretty funny. This time of year for us, there’s generally a surge in the amount of email people send, the amount of people signing up for MailChimp. That’s kind of an organic increase for us. We didn’t expect the ad itself to translate into people signing up for sending with MailChimp. It was more for brand awareness.”

The question that remains is whether or not lightning can strike twice. DiCristina is at least excited to give it a go, telling The Atlantic: “We’ll definitely be back with ‘Serial,’ although I don’t know if we want to try to recreate the magic that happened with the ad. We’ll probably just want to do something completely different.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company paid from $25 to $40 per CPM to sponsor “Serial.” It’s impossible to know if that price is going to go way, way up for Season 2. But even if it does, something tells us that it’s probably more than worth it.

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