Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rock-skipping robot is marketing hero

After a week of overtime, Skippy skips town


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Skippy, the valley's hot new cyborg celebrity, worked overtime to promote Sun Valley earlier this month for the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance. Now he's skipped town himself for some hard-earned vacation time.

The Marketing Alliance employed the San Francisco-based marketing firm Eleven to develop the concept. Eleven created the idea of building a robot that would allow urban desk denizens to escape for a moment to the mountains and skip a real stone in real time on a mountain lake. While users queued to skip a stone, they were offered the chance to enter to win a personalized dream vacation to Sun Valley by packing their customized "Get Away Car." A winner will be selected July 31.

Sun Valley Marketing Alliance President Arlene Schieven said the results were "very positive."

"People from 96 countries were all paying attention to Sun Valley," Schieven said. "On preliminary count, the PR effect was worth an advertising equivalency of $2.7 million after just one week of having Skippy live."

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The project cost the Marketing Alliance $62,000.

A recent Marketing Alliance news release touted the results as "overwhelming."

"Once Skippy took the stage, over 200,000 unique users visited the robot's website, generating 580,000 page views, recording over 5,000 contest entries and adding 1,400 email addresses to the Visit Sun Valley database," the release states. "All within 5 days. ... These results are unprecedented for a marketing campaign of such scope and budget."

Pete Prekeges, a Ketchum restaurant owner and proponent for a traditional chamber of commerce versus the current iteration of the Marketing Alliance, initially had no comment. Then he said, "Really? Wow ... Unbelievable." However, he added, "I'm not a member of the Marketing Alliance and I'm not giving them any money."

Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

'Twitter-verse' tweets love for Skippy

Skippy and Sun Valley were featured across the Web as a trending topic on Twitter with additional media public relations coverage appearing on Mashable, Huffington Post, Fast Company, MSNBC, Yahoo Travel, CNET, Ad Age, Engadget, Tech News and Ubergizmo. Some of the tweets said:

"This has to be the best travel promotion on the Internet right now."

"Media Camp staff testing out Skippy the stone-skipping robot. Awesome interactive experience!"

"Beautiful & simple."

"LOVE this tourism promo for Idaho. Nice work."

"Great tourism campaign for Sun Valley, Idaho. 'Skip Stones in Real Time With Skippy the Robot."

"This is the most badass viral marketing idea I've ever seen. Skip stones virtually. Way to go @visitsunvalley!"




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