This story was first published in Adweek.
If, in recent months, you’ve come across some weird trends, like dudes crimping their hair during New York Fashion Week or men and women getting anti-aging facials using snail products, and you had absolutely no idea what was going on, there’s finally an answer for you.
It’s all been part of a wacky campaign from MailChimp Droga5 and media agency PHD, “Did You Mean MailChimp?” The whole idea for the campaign kicked off thanks to the now popular ad that ran on the podcast Serial where a woman famously mispronounces the word MailChimp. That got the team at Droga5 thinking … what are some other weird things that sound like MailChimp, but aren’t MailChimp?
Earlier this year, MailChimp kicked off the campaign with three bizarre, but equally mesmerizing, short films: MailShrimp, JailBlimp and KaleLimp. If you haven’t had a chance to check those out, now would be a good time to get caught up.
Following the debut of the three films, the brand began rolling out a number of other components to the campaign that to an outsider might all seem like random trends or products. For those who looked closely, they might have discovered that everything was in fact connected.
“We had already created a pretty successful brand on our own and had never done anything nearly this big, but we wanted the work we did with Droga5 to feel like a MailChimp thing on a much bigger stage. We also wanted to do something totally original that couldn’t be copied, which is probably a thing a lot of clients say to their agencies, but we really held their feet to the fire,” Mark DiCristina, senior director of brand marketing for MailChimp, said.
Take for example a line of potato chips that some New Yorkers might have come across in bodegas or grocery stores called FailChips. The concept was to take the idea of all of those crumbly pieces of potato chip that you find at the bottom of a bag of chips and fill an entire bag with those. Anyone who looked closely enough at the website or the packaging may have noticed the MailChimp monkey printed on the upper right hand corner of the bag of chips.
“Everything that we’ve done features the MailChimp logo, the MailChimp monkey Freddie. Everything has been invented in such a way that we are leading people through that process,” Neil Heymann, executive creative director at Droga5 said. “We wanted to go where the audience is and create something interesting within those cultural spaces.”
Take MaleCrimp, for example. The agency and MailChimp wanted to see if they could take some silly hair trend and make it relevant in today’s culture. The brand teamed up with Paper Magazine around the time of New York Fashion Week. During that week the magazine published a photo story online called “Cool Kids Crimp.” It featured an image of a cooly-dressed man with his hair freshly crimped and a link to the Tumblr MaleCrimp page.
Another rather ambitious component of the campaign was “VeilHymn.” Singer Dev Hynes, known by many as Blood Orange, and Starchild & the New Romantic’s Bryndon Cook teamed up to form the musical duo Veil Hymn. The duo’s first song, Hymn, included a track that was covered by a number of publications including Rolling Stone and Pitchfork and a music video.
If you looked carefully enough at each of the websites, like www.whalesynth.com, you would see the recognizable MailChimp logo right next to the URL. The idea was to spark curiosity with each of the weird and wacky activations, like those anti-aging facials done with snail products. When someone searches any of the terms online it would automatically ask them if they meant to search for MailChimp.
Overall, MailChimp put out eight executions for the campaign with help from media agency PHD.
Here’s a wrap up video from the brand that features all the different components of the campaign and ties everything together.