A look back over 10 years

This year is Come Round’s 10th anniversary. Rather than blow a load of trumpets and shout about how great we and our clients are, we wanted to share some of the sometimes unbelievable stories behind 10 years’ worth of campaigns. We’ll cover one year each blog – let’s start with 2010, back where it all began…

CEOs were banging their fists!

2010 was probably the worst time to be starting a business given the state of the economy; we’d like to think that the fact that we’re still going from strength to strength a decade later is proof that our business plan and financials were and still are rock solid. A few of us had been working for quite a few years in various large companies. We were watching our CEOs banging their fists on the desk almost daily, shouting about how crucial it was for us to create direct relationships with consumers. Giles Harris, our founder, was hearing this regularly at the music company, EMI Music, where he was working.

The lightbulb moment

At the same time, research from Nielsen was again showing that the most trusted form of marketing was (is still and will always be) word of mouth recommendations from friends and family. After a light bulb moment, we quit our jobs and raced to set up Come Round, one of the UK’s first word of mouth marketing agencies. With so many contacts in the music industry, it seemed sensible to test our crazy idea on the music companies. We knew (from watching CEOs bang their fists on desks) how much they struggled to form direct relationships with consumers (music fans) given the traditional relationship had always been one step removed (fan gets music from music retailer which in turn gets the music from the music companies). Our light bulb moment back then – and still today – was to inject some serious fun into marketing and present products and services to a demographically spot-on group of consumers and give them all the tools to spark a (hopefully positive) conversation.

Party marketing was born

We figured rather than send product to one person in a house, it would be more effective (in terms of cost and engaging people) to send the product to 10 people in that house, all around a fun mechanic. According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, “When people are in a fun environment, with no distractions, they are at their most receptive to being marketed to“. And that’s how we came up with the idea of party marketing. Hundreds/thousands of simultaneous parties themed around a product.

It began at Twilight

Our first campaign was for the Twilight movie – Twilight Eclipse to be precise. As one of the hottest movies of 2010, the movie itself was definitely not in need of a word of mouth marketing campaign. However the soundtrack album was a different story; the Twilight albums had always been critically acclaimed yet all of the limelight was hogged by the movie. It was time to put some of the limelight on the soundtrack album. And so, that’s how our first ever word of mouth marketing campaign came to be; we ran 500 Twilight Eclipse house parties on the weekend before the soundtrack album’s release. We made sure we picked the perfect hosts (fans of Twilight in this case) and asked them to invite a minimum number of guests to their Twilight party through our very rudimentary system. We made and sent them a fab Twilight Eclipse party pack with enough goodies for 10 people and we got them to do some fun and effective activities to spread even more word of mouth (online and offline) about the album. And so, in those early days of UGC, we asked hundreds of partygoers to pick their favourite track from the soundtrack album and make a pop video for it. We were inundated with hundreds of videos, spawning thousands of views. The party behind the winning video got to attend the Twilight movie premiere. Whilst we had everyone’s attention, we figured it would make sense to collate valuable consumer insight from all the partygoers (hosts and their guests) which gave us all the data we needed to back-up the campaign’s obvious success.

Talk about pop music

Barely had we finished the Twilight campaign, and the record company asked us if we could run more party marketing campaigns for the some of their key autumn album releases, including Usher, The Wanted and JLS (who even streamed their own party simultaneously with the 1,000 other parties taking place across the UK). With 4 successful campaigns under our belts by the end of 2010, we were up and running and foolishly believed that nothing could stop us, or so we thought. We hadn’t anticipated the fanaticism of some of Justin Bieber’s fans….