How to spot a Czech person abroad
Our language school Skrivanek created a new campaign to promote our spring language courses. Online advertising banners as well as Facebook ads and posts were at the core of the campaign, and our main goal was to attract new students to our language school as well as to promote the Skrivanek brand.
Our campaign was based on widely spread and well-known prejudices about how to recognize Czech people in a foreign country without speaking to them and trying to classify them according to their accent.
There are several typical things Czechs do when travelling abroad such as:
- taking their own snack (preferably a sandwich with giant wiener schnitzel) and not eating in restaurants (too expensive!);
- holding a beer everywhere - not a local one (too expensive!), but beer they brought with them from home;
- and the most typical: wearing white socks in sandals.
We used the visuals of these typically Czech silly habits with a slogan, roughly translated as: "A bad accent and basic vocabulary won't reveal you anymore. The rest we leave up to you."
We relied on the assumption that customers would agree with the visuals and stereotypes, and would come to the conclusion that studying a foreign language is very important, especially when you travel abroad. At the same time, they would be amused by our little sarcastic joke, making fun of Czechs, and in the end, they would also remember our brand Skrivanek.
The biggest challenge was to push the idea of the campaign internally in Skrivanek. The management of Skrivanek was worried that the idea was too extreme, and that the customers would not understand the joke and would be angry, thinking that we are making fun of their limited knowledge of languages.
Yes, it was on the edge, but I relied on the Czech sense of humor, their love for sarcastic jokes, and their ability to make fun of everything.
And it worked!
The posts on Facebook with visuals of hairy legs with white socks and sandals were shared by an unusually high number of people. Most reactions were really positive and it amused a lot of people. There was also an online discussion of the different experiences people have when recognizing Czechs in a foreign country, so a lot of people could relate to the campaign idea and share their own personal experiences. It was really amazing and the Facebook posts from this campaign started to spread on their own, creating a fantastic viral effect.
Did everyone love the campaign? Well, it's hard to please everyone. Admittedly, there were some offended reactions, like that we are making fun of Czechs and we do not take things seriously enough. We even attracted the attention of a hate-free organization that gave us a "hate smiley" (which is ironic, considering its name) for spreading hate for Czech people! But these negative reactions were quickly buried in a positive wave of reactions from people we entertained.
And the results speak for themselves. The click-through rate (CTR) of our online banners was 60% better than our usual average. In the following two months after the campaign, the turnover of our language school grew 7.4% in comparison to the previous spring semester in 2016.
Our CTR was up 60% and enrollments grew by 7.4%.
Good marketing campaigns need to stand out, cut through the clutter, and create an emotional reaction. We took a gamble on this campaign and knew that there was a risk we might offend people, however, it paid off. We bet that the Czech's love of gentle sarcastic jokes was right and as a result, we saw a nice profit.