It’s one thing to define a likely target audience, but quite another to actually know where to target them.
For precocious tech aficionados, that “where” might just surprise you.
launched its Radeon HD 7990 graphics card—the world’s fastest graphics card at the time of its release—it made sure to consider the highly niche nature of its industry.
Knowing that technology and gaming press are constantly on the hunt for news, especially online, AMD opted for a viral Internet campaign centered around—wait for it—eBay.
The popular online marketplace would be used to auction off an engineering sample of the new card just days before the product’s official launch date. However, AMD wanted the listing to appear genuine and completely unaffiliated with the company.
Strange as the tactic might seem, it was a peculiarly logical fit for AMD’s core PC gamers, many of whom market research shows tend to upgrade their gear anytime a new faster product or solution becomes available.
Similar to stranger danger parked in the candy van, this eBay sneak peek at the new Radeon graphics card before it officially hit shelves would leave gaming enthusiasts not only coveting the product, but also buzzing all about it.
Making it even more of an alluring approach for AMD, all it needed to execute its campaign was an eBay account, a selling fee of $250, a few photos of its new card, and a short description of the product.
At 2 p.m. EDT on April 16—eight days before the official product announcement—an internal AMD employee using the eBay alias “wowbagger1234” placed the graphics card up for auction along with two photos, product specifications, and the following description:
You are bidding on the world’s first ‘Malta’ graphics card – engineering sample. Don’t miss your chance to be the first to own the world’s fastest graphics card.
By 7:30 p.m. EDT, the first press article appeared on TweakTown
, a technology content site, reporting the appearance of a “leaked” AMD Radeon HD 7990 graphics card on eBay.
After only two days and 104 bids, the card reached a bid exceeding $90,000, far more than its approximate value of $1,000.
In order to cover its involvement, AMD then pulled the auction.
To the average user, it simply appeared as though the sale had ended with the product going to the highest bidder for a final price of $96,100.
Over the span of a week, a total of 2,614 tweets were sent regarding the eBay stunt, with 56 articles published about it as of April 22.
Finally, on April 24, amid a blitzkrieg of positive buzz generated by its fake auction, AMD officially announced the sale of its Radeon HD 7990 graphics card.
We have our own official announcement to make, as well, and there’s no prank involved here. On behalf of Ragan Communications, we condone AMD’s mischief by naming it the winner for Best Publicity Stunt in our 2014 PR Daily Awards. We can’t wait to see whom you prank next.
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