Meet Cecil Goldwell. A creation of Powwownow, the conference calling company. The slightly odious but likeable character tell us in his Twitter profile he hates ‘wife, charity and anything free…’. It is a light hearted media campaign which has come in for some online criticism. In the vein of the now famous Meerkats and Gio Compare, the opera singer of Go Compare fame, Cecil attempts to garner interest in Powwownow, by making slightly errant Twitter comments mainly focused on how wealthy he is. His character has been further popularised with some advertising spots in local newspapers and also on the London Underground.
There isn’t anything new in launching fictional characters to promote products and services, think of the 1970s’ Smash aliens or the PG Tips star chimps. Now with the addition of the Internet, mobile and viral, public take up can be rapid via peer-to-peer and enables a simultaneous on and offline brand experience; getting in to the realms of alternative reality (AR). BMW is bordering on an AR campaign with its current London 2012 campaign which encourages a hunt and subsequent social media posting for the successful Golden BMW spotters.
The ability for characters and concepts to circulate quickly and seamlessly online, can elevate once obscure concepts to high profile cult status. However this does not usually happen by accident, as proved by Cecil, who as well as running a Twitter feed, has invested in some more conventional advertising.
A dose of ‘paid for’ is usually the way to ensure take-up, at least for the initial stages of a media campaign, however quirky.