All I Want For Christmas is a New Dell...With Some Good Customer Service!

Dell's Viral Video Campaign: (4 out of five bees)

So, I was reading Mediapost yesterday, and up pops a piece about one of my favorite customer service disasters-- DELL. Those of you who have heard me speak will know that I buy all of my computers at Staples-- simply because I think they have the best customer service in the industry. And Dell, well, I watched Dell go from a customer service champion to a customer service crisis. Anyway, this latest piece has less to do with their service, and more to do with their viral sales pitch:

Dell has set up, a sort of viral gift registry, where Dell-lovers select which Dell product they want for the holidays, and then select a celebrity video to send out to friends and family, explaining that they want a Dell, and they want it now. They can even link the video pleas to a Pay Pal account that allows your friends and fam to "chip in" towards your Dream Dell. Clearly bitten by the social networking bug, they've also created a widget that can be placed in Facebook or MySpace pages to track their progress and thank their contributors.

Mother New York created the celeb videos, which all feature varying levels of cutesy, fun, and unique messages from different celebs. Brooke Burke does the hottie sell. Estelle Harris, known as George Costanza's screaming mamaleh from Seinfeld, gives the guilt pitch. All very cute.

Dell, unwilling to take this ENTIRELY viral, is supporting the campaign with some TV, some Times Square video signage, and internet ads including a YouTube blocker. They even have an event component, where the video celebs will hang at the ABC studio store (I guess Dell has a temporary dwelling there?) and do a meet and greet for the Dell dorks.

This campaign costs approximately 2.5 million dollars.

I just want to add one thing before I rate this campaign. Maybe I'm getting old, but there's a whole other part of the Dell marketing initiative that I noticed without any Mediapost or blog business. When I was walking into my beloved Staples today, a large banner stood before me. "DELL IS HERE", it said. My mind began racing..."I'm confused", said my mind! "Staples = exemplary customer service. Dell = Long phone waits, customer service in India, and feelings of helplessness and frustration!" I asked Bruce, the manager of my local Staples, and he told me that now they will handle my customer service, just like they would with any other product they sell. Dell, this is a great partnership. You are addressing your most important customer perception, which is that your customer service BITES.

As for your cutesy YouTube and website works. I'm not sure what adult is putting a computer on a "Christmas registry"...but maybe teens will love it. I know that if I got a cute video like that from my kid, I'd contribute to the cause. However, I would tell them to enjoy their new computer and be prepared for frustrating customer service experiences. Alas, whatever kiddies want, kiddies's a product of our guilt-ridden overworked parenting in this country. And so, I will give you 4 bees. You would have gotten three, but your Staples banner just put you right over the top.