Amp up your Communication Strategy through Easter eggs

08 Sep,2020

The Google T-Rex game helps pass the time while waiting for the internet to come back

 

By Bhuvi Gupta

 

Bhuvi GuptaAs I sat this Sunday morning, weighed down by the news that India had breached the 90,000 mark of daily Covid case reportage, I turned to my favourite hack to calm myself down – turn off my Wi-Fi to stop the notifications engage my mind with the T-Rex game on Google Chrome. As I used my cursors to miss the obstacles, I realised that Google’s communication strategy has used so many of these Easter Eggs over the decades, and how they have kept the user engaged so well.

 

Easter Egg is a funny name for communication strategy and refers to the treasure hunt for children organised during Easter, where children hunt for the colorful and decorated chocolate eggs, hidden around the house by their parents. The eggs often contain surprises inside their chocolate exterior, making the experience of finding them, even better. Like its eponym, in business terms an Easter egg refers to brand communication hidden within your user interface. Originally, used by coders, to add quirk to what they felt was boring lines of code, it is now colloquially used to refer to any covert brand communication and is designed to humour the user and add personality to the brand, when discovered.  Due to their covert nature, Easter Eggs inherently generate word-of-mouth, which aids even more discovery and virality.

 

In a crowded market where users are estimated to be bombarded with more than a thousand ads a day, (this number is debated, some research claims its more than 5000) an Easter egg is a great way to be memorable. However, Easter eggs are most effective for brands that have an established and growing audience, as the discovery of the communication is purely organic. Hence, for companies and products in beta, even if the idea of communication with zero spends seems attractive, deploying Easter eggs should be delayed until the product has an established consumer base.

 

The Google search page actually does a barrel roll, when you search for ‘Do a barrel roll’ on Google

 

On the Internet, the possibilities are endless – while most online businesses have caught on to having creative 404-pages, there is so much more potential to make an impression. Both Google and Apple have used Easter eggs as a communication strategy –  Google has used the T-Rex game,  Google Doodles and customised search results to drive conversation and engagement since its inception. The customised search results for ‘Do a barrel roll’, ‘Google gravity’ etc., also keep getting a new life every few years, when they are discovered by a new set of users.

Apple generated far more organic word of mouth when Apple users discovered Siri’s sassy responses, than the traditional PR and marketing they did for the Apple assistants’ launch.

 

Easter Eggs have gotten relatively under-utilised in India. A missed opportunity as the Indian marketplace for internet-based consumer businesses is growing and building a loyal user base is crucial for each player. For instance, every e-commerce site has mega sales every quarter, which are promoted through multi-crore ATL campaigns. Planting some Easter eggs on the app & website during these times of high traffic is a great way to enhance user experience, generate word of mouth and differentiate from the competition. Another great application is using an Easter egg to stem the irritation during a negative experience like a broken link or a product in your basket, which gets sold out before purchase.

 

Easter eggs are possible on every product with an interface – be it product (via its packaging) or even content ( show credits, the set). My personal favourites include the messages on the bottom of Paper Boat pack and the vanity cards written by producer-director Chuck Lorre at the end of every Big Bang Theory episode, both of which make you feel closer to the product.

 

It’s 2020 and people are tired of challenges and trends which ‘go viral’ on the back of generous advertising budgets and often end up losing their core message (Black and White photo challenge, anyone?). Easter Eggs are memorable because their playfulness helps them to become conversation starters, gain word of mouth, discovery and trial. Marketers, I request you to have some fun with your brand, add the personality that is missing, and watch as the organic love flows.

 

Bhuvi Gupta is a marketer with over 10 years across industries, of which the last six have been in Media & Entertainment. She has been a part of many launch marketing campaigns – specifically at the Times of India group, Republic TV and the latest in marketing a Bollywood film. She will write on A&M (mostly marketing, but often on advertising too) every other Tuesday. Her views here are personal. She tweets at @bhuvigupta3

 

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