Woody wants to meat you.

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TGI Friday’s restaurants launched what could possibly be the first ever character-driven campaign crafted exclusively for Facebook. They also may be the first ever brand to hit their goals way ahead of schedule, prompting them to scramble and add an additional mound of give-aways to their already successful promotion. The combo of a promotion and social media is fast-becoming a way to instantly build a fan base at lightening speed. In a July 2009 post, I wrote about the hugely successful promotional give-away by Moonfruit, a website building company that gave away free Macbook Pro laptops. Now restaurants are getting into the act by giving away free food. Early in September, TGI Friday’s aired a YouTube video by a fictitious character named Woody. In the video, Woody claims to have made a bet with TGI Friday’s. Woody claimed that if he could deliver half a million fans on his Facebook page by Sept. 30th, “you get free burgers”. The campaign initially intended to give away half a million coupons good for a free Jack Daniel’s burger or Jack Daniel’s chicken sandwich redeemable at TGI Friday’s. However, when the campaign surpassed it’s goals in just 11 days, and with television commercials just starting to air, Woody fans cried like little babies. Not wanting to disappoint, an additional 500,000 burgers were added to the deal.

But if you haven’t already registered with an email address at Woody’s official Facebook page, you better git while the gitten’s good because the meat is going fast. Whether you like character-driven advertising or not, you have to give Publicis New York, the ad agency that helped create the campaign, some serious props for getting people to sign up in droves and so quickly. According to an article on clickz.com,

“the brand now has a presence with 900,000 consumers on the social media site. And there are still two weeks of ads and 300,000 free burgers to go.”

While some character-driven campaigns can be cheesy, the Woody character is a somewhat lovable goof ball, so you end up liking the kid. If you go on his Facebook page, the use of puns is so blatant, it makes you laugh. At least i did.  While I was fully aware that I was being advertised to, I let my guard down and ended up considering a trip down to my local TGI Friday’s. I think it’s good stuff. Especially if you like meat.

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