Online Brands

How Stranding A Travel Blogger Reinvented Skype [Success Story]

If I plucked a travel blogger from their natural habitat and placed them in a foreign country with no bags, map or plane ticket home in the name of branding I likely wouldn’t receive mass support. In fact, I would probably receive a hefty prison sentence instead. But when Skype dropped travel blogger Mike Corey in Istanbul with no bags, no plane ticket home and no idea where he was going, it was one of the largest social media marketing success stories ever told. 

During Mike’s 15 days abroad, he visited five countries and traveled 16,000 kilometers. Now you’re probably wondering how he managed to travel any kilometers without having such a clue as to which way north is. Thanks to his trusty stead Skype, he was able to go exactly where he needed to. Skype rerouted was a social travel game in which the audience was a vital part in getting Mike to his destination.

Every day Mike was given a clue to get him from destination to destination. To solve his clues he needed to rely on followers on Twitter and Skype. That’s right, his life was more or less in the hands of complete strangers. Every time a clue was posted on social media followers raced to solve the riddles, song clues, anagrams, and visual puzzles, and share the answer with him through Skype or Twitter.

And participate they did! Here are the engagement stats from No Agency NameUntitled

So how exactly does this play into Skype’s brand? Skype strongly believes that Skype and Windows 8 go together like a horse and a carriage. They believed this so much so that they were willing to publicly test it. With high stakes too.

If you think about it, this was quite a risky venture. Skype is notorious for cutting out and having poor webcam quality. If the video buffered or kept disconnecting while waiting on a vital clue, Mike could be stuck in Italy with no idea which way is up. And hoards of eager fans would watch the whole thing. In fact, if this venture went wrong, the media backlash could be detrimental. 

Furthermore Skype could be seen as having seen it’s final days. As Erin Walsh, director of PR for Boost Software Inc. says,

“Skype was a dying brand, and this put them back on the map with everyday users and gave them a reputation for being more than a corporate IM tool. The campaign showed the power of a business stepping out of its usual comfort zone and interacting on a personal level with users.”

 One thing people who doubt the effectiveness of social media campaigns often ask is whether it really is worth the money. So let’s do a quick tally of the costs:

Windows 8.1, Surface Pro 2, Nokia Lumia 1020 Most likely free – with all the product shots and mentions, it’s a fair assumption that these have been sponsored!
Unlimited Internet access and calls Once again, came free with the Surface Pro 2 (Some shameless promotion by Skype!)
Paying off wrestler and flute player $50                                  
Istanbul to Greece $146
Scuba Diving In Greece Islands $230
Greece to Italy $70
Bungee Jumping Italy $150
Italy to France  $62
Paying off dance crew $50
France to Barcelona  $47
Accommodation $1000 – let’s face it the two nights in Istanbul didn’t look too costly!
Food $250
Total Estimate $2065

So we’re looking at around $2000 for this total trip. For a social media campaign this does err more on the pricey side. But consider this: that’s $2000 for a reach of 20,000,000. That’s a cost of $0.0001 per each person reached. Not bad at all!