For Fame, Fortune, and Legions of Facebook Friends, Break a Record

You want to create a big marketing splash? Get into Guinness – and by that, we don’t mean a pint or two of stout – although that might not be a bad idea per se. We’re talking about the Guinness Book of World Records. By the time you read this, the 18,103 rubber ducks that Catherine Captain’s marketing department purchased a few weeks ago may have earned that lofty distinction. [UPDATE: It did! On June 6th, Cozi got its ducks in a row in a BIG way, by lining up 17,782 yellow rubber ducks in a row in Seattle’s Warren G. Magnuson Park.]

  Captain is the CMO for Seattle-based Cozi, an online and mobile family-calendar organizer. For some time now, the six-year-old company has used the tagline “Helping families get their ducks in a row.” So the Cozi marketing team came up with a “raise-the-bar” idea: Why not set the world record for ducks arranged in a row? “We don’t have a big bucket of marketing dollars,” Captain says. “But we’re hoping that setting a world record will give us a platform to elevate our brand.”

  Lately, it seems, lots of other brands have had that same idea, a recent Adweek article reports. From Energizer batteries setting a record for most flashlights flicked on at the same time to data-storage company EMC cramming a shocking number of grown adults into a Mini Cooper, brands of every stripe are angling to get into the Guinness book, which furnishes the ultimate seal of approval.
Which is why Hard Rock Hotel & Casino opened its Seminole, Fla., outpost not just with a guitar smash (which is actually customary for the brand), but with the simultaneous, Pete Townshend-like pulverizing of 1,914 acoustic guitars – a world record. Or why Hot Wheels, which makes toy cars and miniature jump ramps, decided to get a real car and a real ramp and jump the vehicle 332 feet into the air (another world record) during the recent Indy 500. “If we’re going to compete for boys—boys of all ages—we need to be front and center,” says Hot Wheels marketing VP Simon Waldron. “So we thought: Let’s do what we do for real. It was about cultural impact. The world-record component gave it the scale.”

  The world-record component gives these brands something else too: serious social media punch. While 1.8 million people watched the Hot Wheels jump on ABC on May 25, nearly 3 million checked out the YouTube video the following morning. “Social media outlets played a huge role,” adds Hard Rock spokesperson Ana Lanzas. “The online posts and videos generated tons of buzz. The event earned $1,215,697 in media value.”

  And if the record is Guinness-recognized, the returns can be even greater. Brands holding official Guinness records are entitled to use that imprimatur in their marketing free of charge. Plus, they get an added exposure on Guinness book’s Facebook page, which boasts 394,000 fans.

  According to Adweek, the latest fad in brand-sponsored record setting appears to be in the digital realm. When Frito-Lay debuted its “Flavor Kitchen” cooking-demonstration billboard in Times Square this past April, Frito-Lay spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister recalls that the company’s Facebook page was getting a super-surge of activity. Then he started hearing from people at Facebook and started to wonder if it meant something.” It did. After checking with the Guinness people, the snack maker discovered it had set the record for most Facebook likes in a 24-hour period: 1,571,161 . . . and we’ll give a big LIKE to that!