Should We Launch Online Campaigns via Traditional Media?

Does Jack in the Box have the right formula?

Ever since Jack in The Box “Hang in there Jack” launched, I've wondered if launching an online social network, or viral campaign via TV is efficient. (Ok, truthfully I missed the spot all together when watching the Super Bowl, but that doesn't help prove my point.)

I know several successful online “viral” campaigns have launched via TV, but it's time to move on to a different strategy. BMW was very successful with their BMW films campaign, but it's a much different time now, and I don't know if that was “viral” in the first place. (I hate how viral is used in reference to online campaigns, so I feel better when I put it in quotes.  Don't ask me why.)

Why not launch the campaign online first, and use social media to promote it? This is not only cheaper, but increases the chances influencers online will adopt the campaign as their own and help promote it. Using mass media to promote something online is almost shunned by this group, and it will be hard to get their acceptance once you do.

Another benefit to launching online is that the company or agency behind the program can test the campaign and see if it works before spending millions of dollars promoting it with traditional media. You could even refine the campaign to see what works before launching it on a larger scale.

Best case scenario would be if the campaign went “viral” without mass media at all. You could reach millions of people for a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl ad, and you would get a sense of ownership from those participating, that you don't get using mass media.

One of the reasons something goes “viral” is that it seems special to the viewer. So special or unique that those who see it want to share it with their friends.

If a campaign launches during the Super Bowl, how special is it? Do you think, “wow I bet my friends have not seen this and would enjoy it”? Probably not.

Maybe I'm wrong. By the looks of the numbers to the site, the Twitter account, Facebook group etc. Jack in the Box seems to be getting a lot of participation. I think that has more to do with the fact that they are one of the first to have a truly integrated social media campaign, not because of a brilliant execution strategy.

What do you think?