Is Going Viral All That It’s Made out to Be? Nope, just Ask Chuck Testa

As of this week, the analytics from the Chuck Testa viral video campaign stand at:

  • YouTube views = 6.5 million
  • New sales = $0

The success and failure of the Chuck Testa viral video experience provide a cautionary tale for all of us in the social media world that even outrageous success can be meaningless if the wrong tools are used.

Chuck Testa is a taxidermist from Ojai, Calif., just a short, pleasant drive from the DJA offices.  He hooked up with veteran comedy video producers Rhett and Link to produce an online video showing scenes of animals that look real, but are in fact stuffed. Each scene is followed by the catch phrase “Nope, its Chuck Testa.” 

Hey, is that a rhinoceros ordering a drink at the bar?  Nope, it’s Chuck Testa.

Is that a gazelle driving that car?  Nope, Chuck Testa.

The payoff is Chuck Testa’s claim that he can make the most lifelike “taxidermized” animals anywhere.  So, with the right messaging, a catchy tagline and 6.5 million views, you’d think he’d be rolling in new business.  

Nope. According to Stephen Nellis, writing in the Pacific Coast Business Times, business has not taken off.

“Aside from selling a few ‘Nope!’ branded T-shirts and receiving a lot of strange voicemails on his answering machine, the commercial hasn’t done much to boost business.  ‘No, none, zero.  I’m still broke,’ Testa said.”

Matching the marketing method with the type of business is as important now as it ever was.  There are so many new social media tools available to get the word out – from viral videos, to infographics, to blogging – that it’s easy to get enamored of the latest and greatest.  

I don’t know Chuck Testa’s business plan, but I my first impression is that a more targeted marketing campaign directed at sportsmen in geographic regions where hunting is popular would have been more appropriate.  

Of course, this wouldn’t be as much fun or as flashy as a funny viral video.  But, the goal always is to grow sales, which has a quiet, but satisfying appeal of its own.