I'm gonna tell the long story. If you want the short story, skip to the last paragraph. Dinner last night was at Elway's, a bajillion-star restaurant inside the equally starred-up Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver.
After serving us some amazing steaks, the waiter asked if we wanted desserts. We all declined. He then said, "Look, we're kind of famous for our Ding Dongs. I'm gonna bring you one for the table to sample. You shouldn't miss this."
I've talked about Word of Mouth advertising quite a bit and one of the best triggers is unexpected generosity. The Ding Dong rocked. Awesome. It's the reason I'm writing this story. Yes, I'm giving Elway's some WOM love because Max the Waiter gave me a quarter of a Ding Dong. At $9 on the menu, the dessert is likely made up of less than a dollar's worth of butter, flour, sugar, cocoa and yum. So, for the cost of a few pennies, Elway's got a blog post, a Facebook conversation, a tweet…and it's just the day after. Be remarkable. Be generous.
Now, for the SEO lesson.
After I posted this pic on Facebook, my Australian Wizard of Ads Partner, Craig Arthur, asked, "Is that a chocolate spider?" I thought I'd help him out by posting a link to the official Hostess site. Right now (I hope they change this) the Ding Dong page at Hostess has a video of Ashton Kutcher doing a "Ding Dong Doorbell" stunt and absolutely NO a brief description of one of their best-selling snacks of all time. I'm sure that some genius figured out that they weren't ranking as well as the Ding Dong article on Wikipedia and said they should leverage Ashton's use of a similar phrase to garner some SEO traffic. ARGH. If I wanted Ashton Kutcher, I'd type that into Google. The official Hostess page was in second place, but offered little relevancy. A photo of the box, but no real description of the product. I'm not even going to link to their site because I don't want to reward this kind of stupidity. I have no doubt that this blog post will soon be on the first page for a Ding Dong search and at least I offer a story and a rant about a better Ding Dong than Hostess makes. Go do the search. Let me know when they come to their senses. I'll edit in a link for them. 😉
After the video of Ashton, there is a Wikipedia reference to the meaning of the term “Ding Dong Ditch.” After that is the following description of the baked good itself:
Ding Dongs – enrobed with chocolate coating, with rich and majestic crème filling, you can’t help but feel like royalty when you bite into one.
It goes on with a history of the Ding Dong. Was this there when you were reading the page?
By the way, I have just looked up Nebraska Admiral, sir, and wish I lived in that landlocked state so that I could have a chance at getting the position myself.
Perhaps I could just be a Nebraska Boatswain. I’d settle for Nebraska Ship’s Boy. No? How about Nebraska Stowaway?
“Admiral” Java Bean would be an interesting addition to your appellation.
Yes, the brief description was there already…I missed it on my first visit and meant to edit out that sentence before I hastily pressed publish. I had to get to the airport. All fixed now.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the page about the product? Photos from the archives, nutritional info, old TV commercials. All about the Ding Dong.
Yes, it would make more sense to describe what they’re selling. Even the description they have is rather vague and meant to conjure up images of royalty. What’s that about? I thought it was a casual treat.
Obviously that official page is meant for people who already know what a Ding Dong is and who already know about Ashton Kutcher’s use of the term.
Thanks, Dave. I needed the break to go on a fun internet scavenger hunt. I mean that sincerely. 🙂
What a great post. I love when the corporate muckity-mucks get a wild hair and try to harness SEO by virtually duct-taping themselves to the closes hot commodity.
Sure, I love Ashton (I’m an Iowa Boy, too) and what he has done for social media marketing, but you hit the nail on the head. What the hell does Ashton have to do with Hostess’ brand or the Ding Dong product?!?
Kudos for NOT linking out. Kudos for pointing out the bad practices. And Kudos for… well, just being right!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
Generosity is an absolutely central part of the marketing equation, Dave. Not only is it almost always cost effective on an immediate basis (the ding dong theory) but it offers a major goodwill takeaway. People remember generosity. It speak to them on a completely human level.
It’s also important that the manner of the generosity is pitched just right. If it seems ‘off the cuff’ and genuine it’s got a great shot of working. If it seems like part of a disingenuous pitch, the branding benefits will be greatly reduced.
Seriously? Yes, I agree with you about being on the top searches for Ding Dong – simply because you used it on your title tag. I wonder if Google Instant will catch up. Entertaining story, thanks!
I love your WOM generosity, I’m going to be more generous to, well it is Christmas!
bummer, i loved everything about this post, except that I live 1000 miles away from that restaurant, and the picture you provided us looks really tasty.
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