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Viral Marketing 101

What inspires a customer to write an ode to a store and then create an entire music video around it? The answer is easier to come by if you’re Trader Joe’s, the limited-assortment retailer known for its high-quality-yet-affordable, always-intriguing private label products.

We heard about this video posted on YouTube from our friends at Vittles, the food marketing agency in Sausalito, Calif. They make a good point in their own blog post: “This video is brilliant because it focuses on all things TJ's that, combined, make it our favorite place to shop.”

Was this truly just some TJ’s fan who smuggled in his camera phone, or did the retailer surreptitiously have a hand in producing it? Does it really matter? If you shop the chain, you chuckle at the truth in his lyrics; if you don’t, then you might be intrigued enough to seek out a store. Either way, it’s good for TJ’s.

Can Kroger or Safeway or A&P do this? They probably will never be the subject of a song (A&P did sue two employees in 2007 after the pair’s rap spoof video — also on YouTube — showed them abusing produce items in their store).

But there’s nothing stopping any retailers from seeking out some weird, little signature of their business and get creative with it. One of the things that makes these viral ads work is that they appeal to the guerilla shopper in all of us.