Using Chatroulette for Advertising and PR

KDay // May 18 // Insights

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When I first learned about Chatroulette a couple months ago the video site— which allows you to talk at random with strangers—didn't really seem like a great fit for ads. However, what started as a wacky way to talk with strangers is quickly turning into an unconventional advertising medium.

The audience of between 20,000 to 30,000 users a day is 89% male with most of them between the ages of 18 - 24. According to comScore, site traffic jumped from 1 million users in January, 2010 to 4 million in March, 2010. And big brands are noticing.

So what are brands doing?

1. Contests

As part of their new ad campaign targeted towards men, French Connection, the UK-based clothes retailer, has issued a challenge. Meet someone on Chatroulette, and prove that you went out on a date with them by providing a video of your online encounter. When you do, FCUK will give you $375 towards new clothes to impress your crush. There has been a lot of debate in the PR community as to whether this campaign could wind-up being more of a liability than a promotion. However, the buzz around it has been overwhelming (including all the great videos of failed date attempts). And as their marketing director, William Woodhams says, "Any PR is good PR."

2. Stand alone ads

Harley Davidson set-up a camera on a board reading, "Sorry, I'm on the road." accompanied with their logo. Their German ad agency, which came up with the idea, claims an average of 170,000 impressions per week.

3. Interacting live with viewers

As part of an April Fools joke, Dr. Pepper created a cheerleader character. She urged viewers to do things like bark like a dog in exchange for a dance. At the end of the act, the well-known soda brand revealed their sponsorship, with most fans applauding enthusiastically in response.

As part of a larger social media campaign, McKinney Silver advertising showcased Travelocity's "Roaming Gnome" in his very own Chatroulette ads. The gnome is accompanied by witty messages written specifically for Chatroulette users like "Traveling from one person to another doesn't count." and "Awesome things: 1.) Tahoe this weekend 2.) Traveling instead of chatting."

During the first 40 days of the campaign, the agency had 350,000 impressions and 400 conversations. Most impressively, company execs claim that the PR they've received from the stunt has already totally captured the ROI.

4. Using CGI

This ad, created for Fancy Feast, uses technology similar to the kind you can find on the popular video plug-in, ManyCam.

Same with this interactive video plug-in created by LG to promote their "Give it a Ponder" campaign. In contrast to an ad that is served, LG's plug-in is an ad displayed by the user. Once downloaded, the video app appears to make them grow a beard that can be seen by other viewers via video along with a message from LG that shows up in the corner of the screen. Similar effects can be used and created using one of many video plug-ins like the CGI application ManyCam.

What's next?

The creative team here at BG is wasting no time thinking of ways we can use Chatroulette for our very own clients. We can't help seeing some of the inventive things users are doing online and connecting them with brands.

Take the singing piano man who serenades strangers with an impromptu song tailored just to them. What a great promo this would be for Steinway Pianos or perhaps for a band releasing an album. And the artist who draws each user he encounters? Maybe the perfect ad for an art school or artist's supplies?

What ideas do you have for using Chatroulette for advertising? Do you think this medium could be a major player or major PR nightmare?

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