There are many options when it comes to link building, and whilst it is tempting to take the easy route and go for age old tactics – that do, of course work – sometimes it can be beneficial to step outside of your comfort zone of guest posting and manual links and try something a little more complex such as fake campaigns and hoax products. It may be one of the more challenging tactics to pull off but if executed well it can be hugely beneficial for building links and brand awareness – killing two birds with one stone!
We wish we could say there is no right or wrong way to create a successful fake campaign or product launch, but we can't. You HAVE to get it right! So, we are here to give you five things to consider when launching a hoax campaign or product...
This truly is the key to a success with this tactic. If you try to promote something obscure and totally off-brand, it’s never going to be believable - this doesn't mean play it safe, however. You want to do/create something a little bit outside the box that will catch the consumers’ attention, yet still be brand relevant enough to be considered genuine. A great example of this is the recent Paddy Power campaign which announced the launch of the new Huddersfield Town football kit, emblazoned with an obnoxious sized Paddy Power logo.
Paddy Power is (as we’re sure you’re aware) a betting site, one that has never before sponsored a football team, making this whole thing even more of a big deal. It caught the eye of the consumer by ‘sponsoring’ a team, and whilst this would be a first, it was certainly within the realms of possibility, hence why the public (well some of them) fell for it.
What we mean by this is you need to make sure the campaign or product is pushed out on all platforms and promoted in all the same places you would use for any of your real campaigns or product launches. So this would include:
Hosting a campaign or new product launch on the main brand site is really important as, once the news is out, this is the first place the consumer is going to come to to find out whether it is genuine or not. If the campaign or product is featured on the site, you’ve got a much better chance of them buying into it.
One brand that got this right is world leading free porn site Pornhub with the ‘release’ of their ‘Wank Band’; a piece of wearable tech which allowed users to generate storable energy via masturbation which they could use later to charge other devices such as a phone.
The product launch and information was hosted on a landing page connected to the main site, giving the impression it was 100% legit!
This point really only applies to fake product launches, as we all know that the press prefer to try a product before writing it up and featuring it – and let’s be honest, who could really blame them when there are brands out there launching fake products?
Before announcing the ‘launch’ this is something that should be thought about. How are you going to get the press to buy into it without sampling it? Can you build a mock up and send images? Or could you tell them the product is still in development? Something which Pornhub did with its ‘Wank Band’.
What it did that worked well was mention this on the on-site product page and offer people to sign-up and be the first to try the product once it had been fully ‘built’.
This might not always be possible, but it is most certainly worth a try as it can really boost the success of a fake campaign or product launch. Whether it be a journalist you have a good contact with, working with a blogger, a charity or in the case of Paddy Power, a football team – if you can convince someone with influence to promote or mention your campaign or launch in any way, it will add to the believability of it, as well as boosting the exposure.
Jumping back to the Paddy Power and Huddersfield example, they absolutely nailed it when they managed to get Huddersfield Town FC to wear the fake kit during a pre-season game, which got people talking and believing it was true.
Creating a fake campaign or launching a fake product is all good and well, but what are you doing it for? What is its purpose?
It is important to make sure your campaign has a legitimate reason because when it comes to an end and the press and consumer find out it was just a hoax they are going to wonder what it was all for. If you were just doing it for links and a bit of brand awareness, you’re likely to face a bit of backlash. However, if you have created a campaign or product to raise awareness for a larger issue, something of public importance that your brand backs, you’re likely to gain nothing more than positive press and feedback across the board.
Back in 2017 a start-up brand named Treepex announced the upcoming launch of an ingenious product that would clean the air we breathe, as we breathe it. The portable device simply clipped onto your nose along with a mouthpiece and transformed the polluted air into fresh, clean oxygen. All of this revealed and explained perfectly in a product video and a string of media interviews with the Treepex founders.
Whilst this certainly got people talking and wondering whether this was legitimate or not, people were also pondering over the serious health benefits this device could provide if used in cities with high levels of pollution. So, people knew pollution was an issue! This is exactly what Treepex wanted.
As mentioned in the product video, Treepex is in the business of planting trees across the globe in order to combat pollution – and once this product was revealed as a hoax, the true message of this fake product was unveiled – Treepex was aiming to raise awareness about the negative impacts pollution is having on the planet, as well as educating people on the positive impacts trees have. It achieved just that, making the whole hoax launch a complete success.
So, there you have it, five of our top tips on breaking the link building boundaries and running successful fake campaigns and product launches. Whilst it remains a tactic that few brands have opted for, it goes without saying that if you can get it right, the results will be worth it, resulting in a happy agency and an even happier client!
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