During the first series of the hit podcast Serial, one of the most loved aspects of the show was, somewhat surprisingly, an advert for the email platform MailChimp, which you can hear below.
Quartz featured an interview MailChimp’s marketing director, Mark DiCristina, which sheds some light on the thinking behind the campaign.
How collaborative was the process to create the ad between you and the Serial producers?
Pretty collaborative, actually. We gave them the copy for the ad, and then they made the ad itself. Dana Chivvis took the copy and went out in the streets of New York and recorded a bunch of different people reading the ad and then cut it together the way that she did.
That last part of the ad with the woman saying she actually uses MailChimp was unscripted, right
As far as I know! [laughs] I mean, that was not in the copy. I was surprised as much as anyone else. It worked out really nicely, but we didn’t plan it that way.
The fact that you can only hear the audio and not see the people—it adds a level of intrigue.
For sure. I think the variety of voices and accents makes it interesting. I think the fact people hear it over and over before each episode probably contributes to it.
And, quite frankly, I just think the fact that the show is so good, a lot of that rubs off on the ad itself. Part of what people are responding to when they’re responding to the ad is really their affection for the show itself. We’re beneficiaries of that excitement, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily a result of the ad itself.
Can you measure the success the ad has had, in terms of web traffic or Twitter activity?
There’s definitely more people talking about it on Twitter. Hundreds and hundreds of people everyday are using the #MailKimp hashtag, which is pretty funny. This time of year for us, there’s generally a surge in the amount of email people send, the amount of people signing up for MailChimp. That’s kind of an organic increase for us. We didn’t expect the ad itself to translate into people signing up for sending with MailChimp. It was more for brand awareness.