Ivar's Undersea Billboards Hoax
A fantastic piece of viral marketing has revealed itself from under the Puget Sound off of Seattle this week. It seems Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle crafted a story that its founder anchored billboards advertising the restaurant’s clam chowder beneath the ocean back in the mid-1950s – in anticipation of people one day traveling by submarine and seeing them. The restaurant and its ad agency, Heckler Associates, Seattle, then planted the story with the news that they were going to haul these billboards up for everyone to see. (Billboards they had planted weeks earlier in the Puget Sound.)
An ad campaign ran alongside the news stories touting that Ivar’s would roll back its chowder pricing to 1950s rates to celebrate the occasion and underwater discovery. They even had Paul Dorpat, a respected Seattle historian and first vice president of HistoryLink.org, giving legitimacy to the fake billboards even though he knew otherwise.
In September, when the campaign broke, sales of clam chowder more than quadrupled when compared to September 2008 – from 19,000 cups to 83,000 cups.
Damn, that’s genius. Welcome to advertising in 2010.
Quietglover posted these great videos that document the full story.