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Brief Published: 17 Feb 2017

MailChimp’s Obscure Omnichannel Campaign

Email marketing service MailChimp has launched an absurdist advertising strategy that pushes its messaging beyond omnichannel formats and into completely different product categories – all in the name of wordplay.

In 2014, MailChimp became a meme with a pre-roll audio ad on blockbuster podcast Serial that featured a young woman mispronouncing the platform's name as MailKimp. Now, New York-based ad agency Droga5 has created the 'Did You Mean...?' campaign, which riffs on more misnomers via three surreal short films: MailShrimp, JailBlimp and KaleLimp. For instance, MailShrimp features a shrimp sandwich singing about its career ambitions. The clips are being screened in cinemas across the US and UK – without any mention of MailChimp's actual name or services.

Bemused cinemagoers who visit the films' websites can follow digital breadcrumb trails to a range of products (bearing mangled versions of the company name) that infiltrate completely unrelated product categories. For example, FailChips are bags of broken potato chips – MailChimp partnered with media company Vice for a short documentary on the provenance of FailChips, while Vox Media's food vertical Eater uses them in a recipe for Chicken Karaage.

There's also WhaleSynth, a synthesiser tool distributed on tech product platform Product Hunt; and VeilHymn, an interactive music video. Meanwhile, MaleCrimp, SnailPrimp and NailChamp are aimed at beauty fans.

The appeal of regular omnichannel campaigns diminishes as digital content platforms become increasingly alike in format. 'Did you mean...?' is a delightfully obscure way of reclaiming versatile messaging.

In Unadvertising: Honest Marketing, we explore other brands that break with traditional advertising formats. For the latest on online culture, follow our monthly Pop Culture Round-Ups.