Group buying deals site Jump On It must be desperate for new customers – because judging by what happened this morning on the Manly to Circular Quay Ferry, they’re certainly not afraid to Jump on weary morning commuters for email sign-ups.
Australian based Jump On It, which partnered with US based Living Social, is currently one of the largest group buying sites in Australia. However, the local market is extremely competitive as Angus Kidman will tell you at LifeHacker. By recent count, there is over 50 almost-identical Groupon clones clambering for attention in Australia and that should give you a hint of things to come. Given the relative cheapness to set up a group buying business (you can purchase your rent-a-code for under $300 with a quick Google search), it's not surprising that it's finally come to a desperate email grab on board a busy commuter ferry. It’s hard to believe somebody at management signed off on this.
Jay Conrad Levinson is often referred to as the 'godfather' of guerrilla marketing after his 1984 book of the same title sold over 21 million titles. Today's Jump On It sales tactics were straight out of his guerrilla marketing manifesto; ticking all the right boxes for a guerrilla marketing pitch. The idea is to target customers in an unexpected and interactive way by having it take place in an unexpected place (ferry). And that's exactly what happened as I sat there on my way to work today.
The Friday morning sales pitch
Let me set the scene for you: a tall American man walks up and down the ferry aisles, loudly announcing to customers if they would like to pay ‘almost next to nothing for some fantastic offers’. The man continues to wax lyrical about some of the amazing deals the company is offering, as bewildered Ferry commuters attempted to remain invisible, eyes glazed on their reading materials and mostly, keeping calm.
But it didn't take long before our smiling Morgan Freeman lookalike had sucked out much of the goodwill from the room with his meticulously rehearsed sales pitch, treating a lazy Friday morning commute like a Sunday church sermon. Not everybody was taking this so well: a number of us sinners had yet to turn over our emails.
Some caffeine-starved commuters, no doubt hoping for a few minutes refuge among the pictureque (and usually quiet) views of Sydney Harbour, grew increasingly more frustrated as the sales team (each armed with an Apple iPad) frequented each individual row of seats, asking each one of the passengers over and over to sign up to the website. Most people managed to keep their heads down, pretending to ignore the marketing ninjas - while others struggled to politely decline.
Guerrilla marketing at its finest.
When the hapless sales rep again asked passengers if the team should stick around, (to give more people time to sign up), a once mild-mannered, corporately attired man in front of me yelled “No, just go away!”. I heard others making jokes like 'Go jump on it...overboard". I suddenly agreed with my fellow commuter, wishing the big inflated sales pitch would grab an lifejacket and get swimming.
To prove I wasn't the only one who enjoyed their morning song and dance routine, Gizmodo got in contact with a Sydney Ferries media spokesperson this afternoon, who confirmed that a number of complaints had been received from the public this morning.
“The policy was breached and this is something we would never want to repeat. Especially for our passengers who have to experience that (kind of behaviour) on their way to work. We don't adhere to interrupting our passengers at all. We only like to provide safety messaging (over the PA).”
Furthermore, this could be the last time a company tries a sneaky ambush on unsuspecting ferry passengers:
“We do allow marketers to market on our vessels. The group this morning did not fall in line with our usual procedures. We had to work with them, to get the team off the ferries.”
A Jump On It media spokesperson has been in touch, but was yet to provide a statement.
A Sydney Ferries media spokesperson had this to add for us:
Sydney Ferries generates non-ticket revenue through third party digital, display and promotional advertising onboard. Products are screened against a strict set of principles and our advertisers are requested to sign a behavioural code of conduct.
This morning our Customer Relations Manager was advised by the Master of the Queenscliff that a promotional team onboard were loud and intrusive to passengers. The advertiser was instructed to cease such activity immediately.
Jump On It have issued a brief statement on the matter:
“We have taken these concerns on board and have instructed our marketers accordingly.”