Louie the Fly might have been buzzing around for over 50 years, but Mortein thinks its mascot is getting a little on the nose.
Last September the pest control product brand placed an ad in Fairfax Media’s Sun Herald announcing the death of Louie, explaining the mascot no longer reflected the modern face of Mortein.
There was the expected public backlash, and a few days later Mortein announced that due to the public outcry it would consider saving the famous fly - if Louie attracted 250,000 fans to save him from the swatter.
Some media outlets called Mortein out for pulling an elaborate PR hoax and duping the public, but the negative sentiment soon passed and the public embraced the push to save Louie. Today the Save Louie the Fly Facebook page is one of the most interacted with sites in Australia and Louie's future, and Mortein's, looks bright.
Here’s how they did it.
Soon after the ads explaining Louie’s stay of execution ran, the mascot wasted no time and launched a three-month tour along the east coast of Australia to meet the quarter of a million fans who want him to be saved.
As Louie toured the country, fans could vote in person at ballot machines in shopping centres, town squares and even beaches across News South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
Friends of Louie had the option of meeting the mascot and winning limited edition Louie the Fly memorabilia.
Despite Louie having appeared in one of the longest continually running TV ad campaigns in Australia, the mascot has quickly made the leap to social media star.
By far the overwhelming majority of fans have elected to save (or condemn) Louie via the dedicated Facebook page.
To date the pages has 212,016 likes and a massive 21,456 people are talking about it, making it one of the most interactive Facebook pages in Australia.
The page has a range of information about the iconic mascot, from his biography to updates and pictures from recent appearances with fans drumming up support.
The wall is filled with messages of support from an ever-growing legion of fans. Some examples include: “He’s the only fly I wouldn’t kill” and “Save Louie or I will never buy your product again.”
Iconic brands sometimes find staging a dramtic stunt, such as threatening to kill off a beloved icon, can jolt an uninvolved consumer base into action, and acquire new fans along the way.
A recent example of this includes Heinz Salad Cream in Britain, that was threatened with a similar fate until being ‘saved’ by the public.
The campaign has been successful in attracting older Louie followers and engaging a new generation of younger followers with its interactive social media presence.
Louie’s Facebook page is set to pass a quarter of a million fans, and is outperforming the Facebook page of comedians Hamish and Andy in terms of interactivity. For example, Hamish and Andy's Facebook page gets one interaction per 1000 fans, Louie gets an amazing 11.
In addition to the relatively low cost of the Facebook campaign, over 400 press articles and TV spots have been generated about saving (or swatting) Louie.
The campaign will run over summer, when Louie’s ultimate fate will be decided. Either way, people are talking about it.