Blog: Olly WehringThat viral-marketing is catching

Olly Wehring | 6 December 2006

If you live in the UK, and unless you spend your entire life socialising and working only with teetotalers, you must by now have received the email with the Thresher’s 40% discount attached.

Although we have already touched upon this offer on these pages, the continuing debate in the national press as to whether the offer was a monumental cock-up or stroke of marketing genius means I can’t help but give my tuppence worth.

As I said yesterday, a number of the UK’s papers over the weekend reported that the voucher, allegedly meant only for Thresher’s suppliers and their friends and families, could possibly impact the wine retailer’s annual sales.

However, reports in the last few days are beginning to paint an alternative picture, one that backs up my assertion yesterday that all might not be what it seems.

According to the research group Hitwise, visits to the Thresher’s website (www.threshers.co.uk) leapt eight-fold last week as consumers went looking for the offer.

Meanwhile, the share of UK internet searches for “Threshers” increased more than 2000 times last week.

So, the question remains, has Thresher’s made a huge blunder or has it become one of the first wine companies to truly harness the power of the Internet?

At worst, someone underestimated how huge this offer would become. Margins may be hit, but it’s unlikely they'll be hit to the point of loss. And in the meantime, Thresher’s has gained exposure beyond its wildest dreams and hugely valuable gains in the fight for market share around Christmas - who knows it may even give the multiples a bloody nose.

Thresher’s continues to claim that the magnitude of this offering was never its intent. But that again could be a double bluff. The more it claims to have made a mistake the more consumers are going to believe this is an offer too good to pass up on, and the more the media is going to cover it.

Whether Thresher’s has stumbled on this success (and let’s call it a success for now) or whether it was truly a bold and innovative play by its marketing department, expect to see a lot more of this viral marketing as we move forward.


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