Faceless People Are Causing a Stir

This site has moved. Go to MarketingInProgress.com and read about the Faceless People campaign.

It appears as though there are faceless people making appearances in England these days (be sure to read this post and see the pictures). The latest spotting has been at Wimbledon, with some Blair-Witch-esque camera work adding an especially spooky element (see below).

Ends up it’s a viral marketing campaigned managed by Lotus, the automobile manufacturer. There’s lots of talk regarding these creepy creatures, but the one I’d like to address comes from Samuel, who is skeptical that this type of marketing works, claiming it’s doubtful that he’ll be purchasing one of these automobiles.

It’s dangerous and inaccurate to measure success of a viral campaign in terms of sales. Granted, all marketing must ultimately lead to sales, but not all marketing tactics have to lead to sales directly. Viral marketing must be measured in publicity, buzz and exposure. This exposure, in turn, should then lead to interest, which should then funnel down into sales. It’s not an all or nothing proposition; it’s a step-by-step process in which viral marketing is simply a piece of the puzzle.

Based on publicity, I’d have to say the faceless people campaign is working brilliantly. Just take a look at some of the talk that’s going around, that a simple newspaper ad or TV commercial could have never generated. In the past week, there have been more than 1,600 blog posts on the topic alone. Plus, I have to think this has been a much more economical tactic. It’s genius in how it presents something it knows will be talked about, blogged about, YouTubed and Googled about, leading to this ominous website, awaiting whatever it is they are about to launch.

Will it lead to sales? I can’t say. My main concern is with gaining mass appeal for something with such a high price tag could be a bit wasteful. But it is a successful viral marketing campaign, simply because it got us, the consumer, to talk about them, the advertiser. And today, we are as equipped, or more equipped, to spread the word than the media.

8 responses to “Faceless People Are Causing a Stir

  1. Pingback: Faceless Marketing « Samuel J. Scott

  2. I know nothing about Lotus, but I am wondering if this really lines up with their brand. Or will it just end being like a Super Bowl Ad – entertaining but you can’t remember who it was for. Time will tell I guess.

  3. Bill – I’m not too familiar with their brand, either, so your Super Bowl ad comparison could end up being pretty accurate. I know they’re not cheap, and cater to the very rich. Maybe their new car is a more economical model, similar to what Jaguar did a few years ago.

    I struggle with this one. In and of itself, it appears to be a great viral campaign. However, how many incremental sales at, let’s say, $50k are going to be made by people who think faceless people are really cool?

    What’s your take on it at first blush?

  4. Brett,

    Let’s take another “faceless” commercial that I think did very well in support of its brand – the dancing silhouettes with the white iPod ear buds.

    Because the silhouettes are faceless we can more easily transpose ourselves into the ad and see ourselves rockin out to the iPod. I think the ads would have been less effective as “real” people dancing (not to mention that it also dramatizes and focuses our attention on the white ear buds).

    I have my doubts on this one for Lotus. I think it will go down as a cool ad for some product that I can’t remember the name of right now. But I guess we’ll really need to wait for the launch to see the tie in.

    Maybe all this is simply so they can launch a “faceless person” scary movie or TV show like Geico did with the short-lived Cavemen TV show (le bad cinema!)?

  5. I hadn’t really thought of how the faceless aspect encourages me to “fill in the blanks” with myself. Makes sense. And yes, the iPod campaign is brilliant, unique and successfully brands the product accurately. And sales have been good.

    But from a viral perspective, what’s the comparison? Were the white earbuds iPod’s version of a viral campaign?

    As for the Caveman series, I’m going to pretend like you didn’ t even say that. Not only did the tv show suck, but even the campaign got old fast.

  6. The white ear buds were not part of any viral campaign that I know of, more buzz I would say.

    This was simply the closest thing I would think of as to why (maybe) they were taking the faceless angle (probably not the best comparison though). It definitely worked for Apple…for Louts, I’m not sure.

  7. This is all about creating hype for the new Lotus Project Eagle. Lotus revealed the chasis and the engine at the Geneva motor show recently and plan to reveal the full car at the London Motor Show – hence the countdown clock on the Faceless people website.

    The key thing with a car launch (especially at a motor show) is to create interest and buzz beforehand – generating excitment and getting people talking about you is more important than anything else.

    Given the volume of blog posts and number of national press mentions I think the facelesspeople campaign has been very successful and I would guess that coverage gained has far outweighed expectation.

    Whatever happens at the launch, this campaign has got people talking about Lotus and it’s a great example of how a relatively low cost series of viral stunts can deliver mass coverage if executed properly.

  8. Nick – I completely agree with you. This campaign is doing its job: get people talking.

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