There’s a Possum in Your Kitchen, or the Best and Worst Viral Calling Campaign Ever

The phone rings. It’s a vaguely familiar voice saying there’s a possum in your kitchen, or your car’s about to be towed, or someone found your doll collection. At the end, there’s some reference to pizza. That’s it.

The call’s courtesy of a DiGiorno pizza MySpace page that presents The Ditcher, and it’s one of the best and worst campaigns I’ve seen. As a consumer, I love it. As an ad agency exec, I’m less convinced.

The idea is that you can set up a time to get a call or text message with an excuse. But it’s really fun when you schedule it to ring others.

Here’s what’s fresh:

  • It’s easy to use – you just enter a name, a phone number, select the excuse, and pick the time. It takes under a minute.
  • The excuses range from the plausible (the possum in the kitchen bit is great for anyone living a bit outside of a city, though many are far more likely than that, such as a kid having trouble in school to a washing machine haywire) to the less likely (a celebrity wants to party with you). The variety of options make it easy to think of lots of people to use it with.
  • The recipient doesn’t know who’s sending it, so you can remain anonymous if you choose.
  • There are several calls to action to print a coupon.
  • Mrs. Purple Kisses says it’s the best idea ever in the comments. And who dares argue with Mrs. Purple Kisses?

Here’s what’s stale:

  • You can only schedule calls on the hour. If you’re trying to get someone in a certain time and place, it might not work.
  • There’s no clear privacy policy, so conceivably DiGiorno could be doing whatever it wants with the phone numbers. I’m still using it freely, so hopefully DiGiorno won’t abuse it. Oddly, there are lots of privacy seals and assurances when you go to print the coupon.
  • There’s no mobile couponing. Given the phone tie-in and the young audience on MySpace, that’s a missed opportunity.
  • The anonymity is a pro and a con. You can’t spoof who the sender is, and the call appears to come from a random number.
  • The biggest downside for DiGiorno is that no one who I’ve pranked is clear that this is coming from DiGiorno or what this has to do with them, and they can’t come back in turn to the site. So it promotes a lot of engagement from the people who see the MySpace page, but none from the viral nature of it unless the sender later tells them where to make their own calls.

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