Picasso or Starving Artist? The Eerily Unsettling Art of the Marketing Bandwagon Effect


Have YOU embraced the utter necessity to sip your coffee while wrapped up in a warm comfy blankie?

Sane individuals across the world would shriek “YES!” as they shuffle to the kitchen for their morning brew but hark!  How on earth can you happily imbibe your elixir of life if your hands are reluctant to leave their warm snuggy hiding place?

Enter, of course, The Snuggie – one of the most successful infomercial campaigns to date!  At its heart, a Snuggie is an oversized backwards housecoat but one marketed sooo successfully, the estimated profit back in 2010 was 200 million dollars.  To wit:

“…It’s as simple as putting on a bathrobe backwards and an idea so ridiculous it isn’t patentable. But the Snuggie, which sold 20 million items in its first year, is no laughing matter. How did the silly two for $19.95 blanket with sleeves shove aside its Slanket and Freedom Blanket predecessors? Some think the “cult of Snuggie” came to be through an abundance of advertising. $10 million worth of infomercials in a down economy will do the trick.

But humor is the selling strategy that made the Snuggie a star. Bottom line: if a product is ridiculous, it should be sold in the funniest way possible. The ads, which featured a Snuggie-clad family roasting marshmallows together and cheering at sports games, quickly became media sensations. Jay Leno, Whoopie Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres all featured the product on their shows. The buzz has led to Snuggie pub crawls, YouTube Snuggie mockery clips and a lot of gag gifts. I received a text from a friend just before Christmas, “Tell me what you want, otherwise you’re getting a leopard print Snuggie…. MORE

Talk about jumping on a bandwagon indeed!

What the Snuggie did so well was to take advantage of the “Bandwagon effect”.

The “Bandwagon effect” is simply the manifestation of a group of people adopting an idea and making it their own.

And from “making it their own” (ie, talking about it, Facebooking it, discussing it on forums, creating videos about it etc.), they create a viral movement that can either be the ultimate marketers dream (products flying out the window faster than Superman saving the world)…or the kiss of death (Amy’s Baking Company meltdown anyone?)

Your goal as a quality entrepreneur is to proactively use any bandwagon effect applicable to your company and parley that into the *next* level of publicity.

Some viral techniques for achieving this include:

1.)  Encourage your customers to share their experiences on your Facebook Business Page.

It’s human nature – consumers want that personal voyeur entry into how *others* are experiencing their Jumping-On-The-Bandwagon adventure.   What Snuggie party did they attend and how much money was raised?  Or how much weight loss did P90x help them achieve…and is the P90X Yoga DVD really deserving of the name, Darth Yoga?

2.)   Schedule an Event and Use Google Hangouts For a How-To Training Session

Is there an increased buzz about your product or service online?   Turn that into a video chat opportunity; plan out a Google Event that invites your fans to your Hangout and run a free how-to tutorial or training class.    Google Hangouts are automatically sent to your YouTube channel, thus ensuring your marketing grows in at least two extra mediums – your Google Plus page and Youtube.   Plus, you can then embed every hangout you make in your own flagship site which will help your Search engine visibility and ranking as well.


is an excellent primer on how to schedule and run Google Hangouts – Webinar Express is a tool you can use to embed Hangout registration directly into your WordPress site.

3.)  Create A Customer Incentive Program Based Upon The Bandwagon

This takes sharing experiences on your Facebook business page one step further.  Offer the opportunity for customers to refer friends or encourage them to share their best tips/videos/etc on your Social properties – your Pinterest board, your Facebook page or group, your forum etc.  Hold a contest and reward the customer who generates the most leads.

Never underestimate the social benefit the “bandwagon effect” can give you.

2 of the most popular examples of the Bandwagon effects in marketing include:

  • The phenomenal growth of Pinterest (in December of 2012, the Big 3 became The Big 4 with a 1,047% increase in unique PC visitors)
  • The launch of Oreo’s Instagram account via the Superbowl (which saw an increase of 2,200 followers to over 35K by the close of Sunday night)

Compelling a rousing bandwagon basis can truly be a marketer’s dream, but one thing consumers must remember.

It’s very easy to buy “likes” on Facebook, to create fake social accounts and otherwise, manipulate the way data is seen.

The book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday shows just how simple such a process truly can be.   It’s truly eye-opening indeed.

Still, though, one cannot ignore the power of the Bandwagon effect. To ensure your product’s bandwagon will be perceived as desirable as a Picasso or as common-place as a Starving Artist are the following, take note of the following points.

1.)  Connect with your customers’ emotions.   Consumers do not jump on bandwagons because of a product’s features – they become enthusiasts because of the benefits your product delivers.  If you want to generate a positive bandwagon effect, your marketing copy must speak to the desires and dreams of the buyers.

2.)  Provide a satisfying way for your customers to engage one other.  Encourage sharing on your Facebook fanpage, create a Pinterest board for the most clever way your product can be used.  Offer incentives for your customers to share their positive experiences with their network.

3.)  Take proactive advantage of social media.  Don’t be content with solely offering a Facebook page that is static and boring; offer contests, develop a presence on Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Stumbleupon and more.

In closing, get your message out there where your customers can then invite their friends to join them on the bandwagon and sing your praises.  Your bottom line will thank you for it.

Grow strong,

Barbara Ling


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