Threadless Design Campaigns Become Popular With Fans was founded in 2000 by Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart after winning a t-shirt design contest.  When their website was created there were no social networks to promote their site, they did not exist. In order to get their new store out to the people they created their own social network where they run design competitions that allow artists to submit designs to be printed on a t-shirt and sold on their website.  The website itself was a social network where people blogged, chatted about designs, and socialized with fellow artists.

Artists from all around the world jumped at the opportunity to have their design printed on a shirt then sold on the website.  Each week there are about 1,500 designs submitted that compete against one another.  During the duration of that week the public is able to vote on their favorite designs.  At the end of the week a team from Threadless finds the 10 designs with the most votes and prints them to be sold.

The lucky artists that win the most votes receive a cash prize of $2,500 and a $500 gift certificate for Threadless.  Each time a design is asked to be reprinted, that artist  receives another $500.

Despite the fact the company has never advertised, employs no professional designers, uses no modeling agencies or professional photographers, has no sales force or retail distribution, they have never produced a flop.  Annual sales are up to $5 million.  They keep their costs low and because the community chooses which shirts are to be made, every product is eventually sold out, the customers are the company.

“Threadless completely blurs that line of who is a producer and who is a consumer,” says Karim Lakhani, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “The customers end up playing a critical role across all its operations: idea generation, marketing, sales forecasting. All that has been distributed.”

Once social networks started to form, Threadless would also use those to gain even more customers.  They started to come up with themes for the artists to design.  Earlier this year in February Threadless ran The Zombie Rights Campaign, where artists could compete in designing the best zombie picture they could.  Also when Twitter started to become more popular, Threadless ran a competition having designers come up with the best tweets to put on a t-shirt.

Due to the success of the design campaigns, Threadless was able to open up a retail store located in Chicago in 2007.  Sold from the store are the same designs that are submitted on their website.  Because new designs are submitted weekly, the online store and the retail store products change every Friday.  As the products are always changing to something new, this keeps customers coming back each week to check out all the new designs.

The idea of running these design campaigns created sudden success for Threadless.  Jake Nickell has built this entire business around the idea that an online community can drive innovation.

Blendtec’s Will it Blend? Campaign Goes Viral

Will it Blend? is a viral marketing campaign of a series of Youtube videos done by the founder of Blendtec, Tom Dickinson. In each video Dickinson demonstrates the power of his Total Blender by blending various items starting anywhere from ice to a golf club. This campaign was first started after Dickinson attempted to blend a box of matches.

Tom Dickinson takes requests on what to blend from Facebook followers.  At some point during each video a subtitle will appear stating whether or not particular items are safe to blend at home.  If not a subtitle appears saying “Do not try this at home,” if it is, then “Please try this at home” appears.  Items like cell phones and golf balls are not safe and Dickinson warns viewers to not breath in the smoke after blending.  While Tom waits for the outcome of each blend he just stands there and smiles.  Once it is finished, he empties the contents on to his table showing viewers what is left of the items.  Then the subtitle “Yes it Blends!” appears before the video ends.

Some of the fan suggestions include baseballs, light bulbs, make-up, and even a crowbar.  The episode in which Tom Dickinson was going to blend a crowbar gets interrupted when a few of the crew member’s cell phones start ringing.  Dickinson told them that cell phones were not allowed and compensated all cell phones and blended them.  In another video, Dickinson showed fourteen feet of a garden hose get turned into dust.

Not only does Dickinson appear in the videos but he is also the engineer behind the blenders, some features being created by accident.  For example, the winglets on the blade were designed because a regular blade did not fit.  He tried to get rid of the winglets but then found out that the blender did not work as well, and what about the patented ‘wild side’ that makes the blender work better?  Turns out he put that there just because he needed room for his hand.  They were both accidents, but happy ones at that.

Along with the success from the videos, Dickinson has also made many national television appearances including NBC,  The Tonight Show and also History Channels.  On The Tonight Show, he showed fans that he could blend a rake handle in just seconds. 

 The start of the campaign was a great success and increased Blendtec sales very quickly.  Everyone wants a sturdy blender that will last a long time.

“The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.”

With all the media on Will it Blend? there is no wonder why this campaign went viral so quickly.  Fans loved to watch what was going to get blended next.  Because of the campaigns great success Blendtec now sells Will it Blend? merchandise including a t-shirt saying “Tom Dickinson is my Homeboy”.

Facebook Users Vote in New KSL Social Media Campaign

KSL-TV launched a new social media campaign for local charities allowing Facebook users to vote on which charity is most deserving of $20K. The donation was made possible by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation.

The two week campaign, KSL Cares, gave five organizations a chance to win the money including Catholic Community Services of Utah, Primary Children’s Medical Center, The Road Home, the United Way of Salt Lake and the YWCA of Salt Lake City. “They are local charities that we feel are in need or that serve a great community need,” KSL’s Tanya Vea said. She also stated that the goal of this campaign was to raise awareness for the organizations either by getting people to donate or even volunteer.

It was all up to Facebook users to decide the winner of this campaign. Whichever charity received the most likes on KSL-TV’s Facebook page, as well as the amount of links shared on individual Facebook pages, would win the $20K donation. They did not want the losing charities to go empty handed, so the four that did not win the grand prize still received $1,250 each from the foundation.

Every night, for five nights, at 5 p.m. KSL-TV dedicated that spot to one of the five organizations, highlighting what their purpose is. Viewers were then able to learn background information on each organization deciding which one they thought deserved the grand prize.

Many users showed their support throughout the two week campaign giving Primary Children’s Medical Center the win. “We have 15,000 friends on Facebook, and I think that was a show of support from the community that we dearly appreciate,” said Primary Children’s CEO Joe Mott. “Surely that money will be a blessing for children’s lives in the community”.