Dairy Queen Kicks Out the Slow Jams with Valentine’s Viral

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Home of the Blizzard and other cold, sweet confections, Dairy Queen has been one of the most enduring and familiar brands/franchises in North America. But while we’ve been prone to TV, outdoor and print campaigns from the company—most recently with its ‘Talking Lips’ spots—DQ is taking its first full-scale foray into the digital marketing realm this year, beginning with its Valentines-themed viral site, the “DQ Slow Jam Lips Sync”.

“You’re catching us at an interesting moment because we’re about to much more significantly integrate digital and online initiatives into our overall marketing mix,” DQ’s North American Chief Branding Officer Michael Keller tells ADOTAS. “What you’re seeing here with DQSlowJams.com is actually our first truly notable foray into, let’s say in this case, we’re talking about a viral sitelet, pretty interactive and fun to use that ties back to our brand.”

With four different dropdown menu screens (below) at their disposal—voice, cake type, slow jam, and mood—users can then select from a handful of options in each to customize their own smoothed-out “slow jam” video—which features those familiar talking lips and varieties of amusing footage that can be set into several different combinations. From the Barry White-like “Velvet Mayfly” being the “Perfect Gentleman” over a “Beatbox Serenade” in a dim-lit bedroom to “Lady D” sensually peddling a “Classic DQ” cake over a “Soulful Ballad”, Dairy Queen brings out the lothario in all of us while using puns and double entendres to push their popular cakes.

“This [campaign] did happen to coincide with the big holiday obviously, and we do a pretty significant cakes business in North America,” says Keller. “So to get out there for Valentine’s Day made a lot of sense. We’ve integrated our cakes content into DQ Slow Jams. There are a couple of links there to take people to their store locator to find stores that sell ice cream cakes, which obviously [sell] pretty heavily around Valentine’s Day.”

The viral effort, which kicked off February 9th and will likely run through this weekend, also marked DQ’s budding relationship with digital partner Space 150, who took the company’s traditional Talking Lips concept and implemented it into the online creative. “They did it in just a couple of weeks, which is impressive given all that’s integrated into it,” Keller boasts. It also marked a coup of sorts for the brand, considering that national agency of record Grey Worldwide has been its exclusive creative conduit…until now. “Talking lips is a creative concept developed by…Grey Worldwide,” Keller emphasizes. “We have been using those talking lips in television and it started last July. We’ve never allowed other voices to flow across the lips. We’ve never allowed anyone but the folks that work with our Grey team to animate it, and we’ve certainly never been out of our typical advertising context. That element of content was the inspiration behind 150’s ideas, so they’re leveraging a creative asset we already have, but doing it in a way we’ve never done before. So this is brand new territory for our lips.”

DQ’s faith in Space 150 seems so much so that the digital agency will also spearhead overhauls of DQ’s flagship DQ.com site and its fan club destination, BlizzardFanClub.com. This initiative, along with DQSlowJams.com, is just the beginning of several 2007 digital promotions, according to DQ’s CMO. “This is our toe in the water, and it will be one of about 5 or 6 digital initiatives this year that occur, let’s say, over the next 6 months—not including the overhaul of DQ.com and BlizzardFanClub.com,” Keller reveals. “There are a range of things, but we will probably have at least one other viral sitelet. Unlike DQ Slow Jams, we’re looking at some advergames that should be pretty compelling. It’s the kind of games where any kid and any family connected to Dairy Queen could play it and enjoy it, but more sophisticated gamers might get a real challenge out of in trying to maximize their score or maximize their progress.

He goes onto divulge, “Later in the spring, we have a pretty big integrated promotion with a variety of media for our biggest new product introduction of the year, which I can’t really talk about yet. But I can tell you that that integrated promotion is going to run a couple of months, and it’s going to involve multiple things.” This, according to Keller, includes mobile, sweepstakes, and other promotional overlays.

But in the meantime, before the more ambitious endeavors, DQSlowJams.com thus far seems to indicate a successful start for DQ Digital. “It’s very encouraging,” says Keller. “For this small test of ours, I think we’ve gone well past 100,000 sitelet visits now, and I believe we have a 22.5% open rate from our Blizzard Fan Club members to get there.”

While he remains somewhat skeptical of the full potency of digital branding, Keller seems proud of his company’s shift into the arena. “Going from nothing in 2006, for example, that was really happening for us digitally to launching what will probably be between 4 and 5 of these digital initiatives over the next 6 months starting here with Slow Jams, is pretty notable for us.”

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