Friday, April 8, 2011

ThinkGeek's "Gotcha"--Viral Marketing and Research

Did you see ThinkGeek's April Fool's products? If not, click here and browse this year's crop, along with the fun items made up for previous years. They're worth a few minutes of mousing around. You'll smile!

Online/catalog marketer ThinkGeek rings up serious profits from its $76 million in annual sales, and the company is growing like kudzu. On any day other than April 1st, its products range from the very practical to the highly whimsical, with descriptions written by some of the best copywriters in the business (IMHO).

This year's April Fool's products included the Playmobil Mini-Apple Store (Genius Bar shown above).  As silly as these fake products may be, ThinkGeek gets a lot of mileage from its April Fool's pages. They're great for stirring up a storm of viral marketing and lots of free publicity as media outlets comment on the gag items.

Along the way, ThinkGeek throws in a little bit of marketing research. If you click to buy an April Fool's product, you're taken to a screen titled "Gotcha!" Right below, it asks the real question: "Want these products for real?! Let us know!" Check the boxes for any fake product you might be interested in, and leave your e-mail address. Who knows, ThinkGeek might just put Angry Birds Pork Rinds into production if enough people leave their e-mail addresses.

Actually, Wired's Gadget Lab blog notes that more than a few ThinkGeek prank products wind up as real after a few months. It's pushing for this year's Star Wars Lightsaber Popsicle kit to go on the market--by summer.

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