Yahoo! Mailbox: The Purple People Greeter

The Purple People Greeter is a genius guerrilla campaign that was executed by e2 marketing. The campaign itself is much like the coca cola happiness vending machine but slightly different. In my personal opinion, I like this one better. Why? It has personality! Unlike the Coca Cola Happiness Machine, the Yahoo! Purple People Greeter was witty, friendly and unique!

The Results
The video was viewed over 15,000 in the first weekend it was up. The Facebook fan page has over 400,000 likes and counting. We are still seeing lots of traction on video pass around and press so we are feeling really good about how much visibility it is getting.

Challenges / Details
The entire operation was covert – we had 2 “stakeout” style vans that held cameras, monitors, equipment and the voice talent. The vans were closed and parked along the streets so unsuspecting people would not have any clue that there was anything unusual going on. We had a team of 10 people but none of them were visible to consumers. We were all on radio to coordinate the logistics. The goal was to give people gifts that were personally relevant to them, so for example we had a couple who just got engaged so we gave them flowers, if we came upon Yankee fan we gave them Yankee tickets, dogs got dog bones etc. So we needed to have a system in place so that the person inside the mailbox knew what the talent ( who was in a stakeout van) wanted to give the person.

The other challenge was finding the right location: we wanted to have a steady stream of foot traffic, but in a relatively quiet location. We wanted to take people by surprise and it would have been tough to do so if there was a crowd around the mailbox at all times. Once word got out around the neighborhood and on twitter people came seeking out the mailbox. We had to strike the right balance.

6 Replies to “Yahoo! Mailbox: The Purple People Greeter”

  1. This is great. Ryan you tweeted me and asked me for my feedback so here are a few ways this could be more integrated and make it a true guerrilla social media campaign:

    #1) Set up a couple cams and mics to stream it live so your online audience can watch it in real time
    #2) Get people in on the joke… why not allow people to invite their friends down and let them be the voice of the box
    #3) Do more of these over a longer duration – frequency and consistent use of these boxes around a city over time could create a bigger spin-off
    #4) Integrate several boxes with QR codes and possibly a prize orientated scavenger hunt at the end of the campaign.

    Overall I think it’s an awesome concept. Guerrilla marketing is about human pschology and tapping into our curiosity, humor, and passions. This box does that — but a key guerrilla social media marketing secret is “Supplement” – in other words… what’s next… what’s the next episode?

    You’re one critic I saw there on Twitter who responded to the campaign as “glowing bullshit” in my humble opinion must not understand the importance of community or guerrilla psychology or the power of engaging community. In my opinion this concept is a win — it just needs to be allowed to evolve and be given more time.

    As usual you have done a great post. Thanks for reaching out.

    Shane Gibson
    Co-author of Guerrilla Social Media Marketing

  2. Hi Shane,

    Thanks for your recommendations and opinion on the concept. I’m that you took the time to really think about how to better the campaign. Really enjoyed #1 and #4. It would’ve been very nice to see those additional layers to make it more social!


  3. @shane. You didn’t quote me correct, so please be more careful next time. I talked about a ‘glowing bullshit meter’. ’cause it missed any relevance with the brand Yahoo. it’s just fun, just like The Fun Theory thing from Coca Cola. so what. this joke could have been done by any brand, Coca Cola did it already in a slight different way. can you explain me why this is a typical yahoo thing? where does it fit in Yahoo values. I’m too curious. Guerrillamarketing is my humble opinion not about’ human psychology and tapping into our curiosity, humor and passions’, What a strange definition that is. You’re talking here about advertising in general. Guerrillamarketing should be meaningful, relevant and unorthodox. A relevant translation from the brand values to the target audience

  4. @shanegibson:disqus
    Where are you now? At first a rapid reply and now you’re speaking in silence?? Or where my questions to difficult

    Cor Hospes
    Author of Guerrillamarketing. Nieuwe sluiproutes naar het hart van je klant
    Expected this autumn. New Guerrillamarketing Manifestio

  5. Dear Cor and Ryan. I have responded in the form of a blog post and podcast. Here’s the first paragraphs:

    “Since I stepped into the ring and became a guerrilla author in writing
    Guerrilla Social Media Marketing with Jay Conrad Levinson I have come
    across all kinds of misunderstanding, misuse and abuse of the term
    guerrilla marketing. Today’s podcast was inspired by what I can describe as a well meaning (or possibly not) but off-base commenter on the Creative Guerrilla Marketing blog.

    I decided instead of just replying in the comments section that I
    would take the time to respond in the form of a podcast. Why? It’s so
    vital to understand the role of psychology and community in Guerrilla

    I also think it’s important to establish that Guerrilla Marketing
    is well defined, and it’s body of wisdom and definition that is widely
    accepted and used by over 20 million readers of the Guerrilla Marketing
    Series of books. Some people will take pieces of the body of wisdom and
    use them to suit their outlook on marketing but the whole is greater
    than the sum of the parts.

    In addition to this just because you slap the
    term guerrilla on a book, blog post or marketing campaign it doesn’t
    make it guerrilla…… (Read the rest here:

    I hope this clears up how Guerrilla Marketing International, Jay Levinson and my respected 30 peers and co-authors define Guerrilla Marketing.

    Shane Gibson
    Guerrilla Social Media Marketing

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