Will It Blend? With fluent storyteller Tom Dickson, yes!
by Paul Furiga, on Jan. 14, 2013
When a skeptic tells me that a business-to-business company can’t sell using social media, I flip over to YouTube and demonstrate one of the greatest social media storytelling efforts ever, Will It Blend.
Will It Blend is the serialized adventures of Blendtec, the superior commercial-strength blender line made by the company of the same name. When it began in 2006, YouTube was barely two years old. In the infancy of Internet video, Blendtec founder Tom Dickson and his marketing director, George Wright, found incredible success.
When Wright joined the company, Blendtec made incredible commercial blenders ($1,000 and up) that could seemingly chew through anything. Dickson, an affable mechanical engineer and inventor, was known to don his safety glasses and lab coat frequently and insert items such as 2x2 pieces of wood into Blendtec blenders as part of ongoing experiments.
The first time Wright saw this, a light bulb went off. Dozens of videos and more than 219 million YouTube views later, Blendtec has crossed the B2B to B2C chasm with videos featuring cheesy music and graphics, the willingness to blend just about anything, and Dickson’s goofy smile, omnipresent safety glasses and lab coat.
The success of Will It Blend has put Dickson on NBC’s Today, made him a celebrity pitchman for other products, and boosted the sales of consumer blenders for the company by 700 percent.
The seemingly insane genius of Wright, his producers, and Dickson (who sometimes doesn’t know what he’ll be stuffing into the Blendtec until he arrives in the gaudily decorated studio) has destroyed iPhones, video cameras and even Bic ink pens (which burst into flame on camera and singed Dickson’s eyebrows).
The humor reached an apex in the most recent video, posted on December 21, 2012, the day supposedly picked for the end of the world by a Mayan calendar. In the video, Dickson stuffed a Blendtec TotalBlender Classic inside a newer, larger Blendtec Designer series blender. “Some have said that if a Blendtec blends another Blendtec, the universe would implode,” Dickson deadpans. “Like that’s going to happen,” he adds, right before pushing the button and creating a disturbance that sends the video to that bright test pattern that so many B-grade horror films use to symbolize the end of the world.
Some Will It Blend fans believe the world-ending humor of this video signals the end of the series. Others aren’t so sure.
Whether or not the end is near, it’s time to share the one truth that’s most responsible for the success of Will It Blend: Tom Dickson.
You see, Dickson – Mormon, father, grandfather, mechanical engineer, inventor, owner of a goofy smile and great eyebrows (singed or not), is the classic fluent storyteller. Without him, would the Will It Blend series be as successful? No.
At WordWrite, as we developed StoryCrafting, our process that taps the ageless power of stories to deliver business success, we identified three critical elements to a successful story: a tale rooted in fact, shared by a fluent storyteller, and continually evaluated to make sure the story’s connecting with its intended audience(s).
Without question, Blendtec is an authentic story – a product that you can use to blend just about anything. And the team led by Wright has done a fantastic job engaging the audience in the story (the latest video involves a Blendtec on Blendtec confrontation because that’s the most frequent request from viewers).
With these success factors, but without Dickson, it just wouldn’t be the same. Dickson appears on camera to be totally comfortable with himself (including his safety glasses and smile), someone who possesses the child-like wonder of a budding scientist and the goofy, harmless charm of your favorite eccentric uncle.
For Blendtec – and for those of us who appreciate the power of social media and storytelling – it’s a winning combination. Will It Blend may well be over. But I’ll bet the sales success is far from done. And those videos will no doubt be continuing to generate views for some time, thanks to the long tail of social media, cheesy music, unbelievable blending and Tom Dickson’s trademark smile.