Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My French Connection

One way to reach out and really connect with consumers like never before is House Party. It’s what we at Extrovertic call a “bricks & clicks” social media solution and we’re very excited about it. Companies engage House Party to organize 1,000-15,000 consumer parties nationwide, on a single night, centered on a product-related theme. The idea is to get the hosts and their guests to talk about their experiences on and off-line.

There have been “Alli” low-fat food tastings, Hersey “Bliss” pampering parties and SC Johnson spring-cleaning parties.

At Extrovertic, we think House Party is a perfect venue for generating positive talk about Rx and OTC products. If you can get 18,000 women to apply to host a party to generate talk around cleaning products, surely you could get them interested in osteoporosis products, sleep aids, children’s and pet medicines, or even dermal fillers?

One of the questions clients always ask is, “Why on earth would someone want to host one of these house parties?” So I decided to find out for myself and host a “French Wine and Cheese” party that House Party was organizing on behalf of the French government.

Turns out I had a lot of fun doing it, gained some knowledge about French wine & cheese, and reignited my love of entertaining. My husband and I used to entertain a lot, but between kids, dogs, house and jobs, all that socializing went by the wayside.

As a House Party Hostess, you get the feeling of “being in the know” and for some of us extroverts, that is a part of our identity (sometimes an annoying part. I admit I once got a prize for “most knowledgeable” at a company sales event, which wasn’t meant to flatter me, I am afraid!).

One of the things I discovered on the company’s blog for party-givers is that there are many repeat hostesses, so I am not alone in my compulsive “need to share.” The French “concierge” who answered people’s pre-party questions on the national online party page was also a valuable resource. What an engaging and personal way to get consumers connected to a company or product.

Further knowledge could be obtained by downloading “party favors”–tip sheets and signage. As a hostess, you earn points for each activity that puts you in the running for a prize. In my case, a French vacation. (Or maybe not. I was a relative slacker who earned 344 points versus the national leader who blew me away by wracking up 169,669 points.)

I found that my guests really wanted to talk about the company/government sponsorship and the products being offered (in the case of wine & cheese, the appeal is obvious). I spent at least 30-45 minutes explaining the concept and answering my friends’ questions. And even though some of our talk was “tongue in cheek,” I bet that the next time my friends visit a wine store, they’ll find themselves checking out the French wine section.

Some people may worry that a party centered on a health condition or medication could be trivializing. I would argue the opposite: what better way than a party to help bring healthcare front and center in our daily lives?

And imagine the power these newly engaged brand advocates would have when let loose to chat about their their great experiences online.

And, as health guru Dr. Roizen, suggests, the only way spiraling healthcare costs will be brought under control is to emotionally engage consumers in making needed lifestyle changes, including taking prescription medicines.

So how about a healthy lifestyles party for the Woodstock generation?

Any takers?



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  1. Great idea, you should have read your guests so cheese poetry that really makes the cheeses dance.


  2. A few years ago I suggested that a client try House Party for a pharmaceutical product that they had. Seemed like a great idea to get people talking. Lawyers and regulatory people shot it down -- too open a discussion and not enough room for full disclosures of adverse events, etc. All this goes as a way of showing that the best ideas are DOA by the time they hit pharma advertising.