Two years ago, I saw this video on YouTube and it really made an impact on me.  First, it is absolutely hilarious.  Second, I can actually relate.  I built one of the first Internet games, Renegade Outpost (it is still running), and launched it in 1990.  By 1992, I was told that it was the most popular game on the Internet, but there was no Nielsen at that time to validate that claim.  It doesn’t really matter – we had 5,000 players worldwide.  The point is that people got lost in the game; they really cared about it.  Think of it as an early “grandparent”, text version of World of Warcraft (my game was based on TELNET, pre-HTML, and it was based on real-time interaction).  It took 2 to 3 months of 40-plus-hour-per-week gameplay to master.

Warning: the video has profanity.

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Did Leroy Jenkins’ ridiculous battle cry and bravado drive awareness for World of Warcraft?  You bet.  It is much more compelling than an advertisement.  This is word of mouth in action – as captured directly through the players real-time let down due to their cowboy friend, Leroy.  You can hear the anguish and passion in their voice.  They’ve spent a lot of time building their characters, and Leroy blew it up for them.

There are now well over 15 million views of Leroy Jenkins videos on YouTube.  That’s reach.  And look at all of the mash-ups.  Many are not that interesting (that is why I sorted by view for you in that link), but people actually care enough to make them.

Comedy Central’s hit South Park created an entire episode inside of World of Warcraft as well.  Were they inspired by Leroy Jenkins?  Probably.  In any case, it is hilarious too.

And, of course, Leroy Jenkins has turned into a celebrity of sorts in the videogame world.  Here is an interview of him at BlizzCon 2007.  Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of World of Warcraft, were smart to leverage him.  World of Warcraft now boasts 10 million subscribers, or an impressive 62% of the estimated MMOG market.

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Clients are leveraging our Stories product to find their Leroy Jenkins (or their “Jareds”, should you want a more well-known example from Subway).  Stories can include user-generated text, photos, and videos.

In our webinar this past Tuesday, I enjoyed presenting with John McCullough, Director of Marketing at James Avery, on how they are using Stories (email us if you would like to see the recorded version).  The level of customer engagement is awesome to see – passion exemplified.  Read some of the James Avery customer Stories (note there are six categories for their Stories).  And then venture over to Philosophy to read some of their customer Stories: here is their award winning story about mothers during their Mother’s Day Stories contest.

This is incredibly powerful: our clients are literally breathing personality, passion, and “connection” into their businesses online.

8 Responses to “Leroy Jenkins: 15 Million Views Later, and Bazaarvoice Stories”

  1. Brett,

    Thank you for sharing that charity-based review incentive program, that is an outstanding idea that I hope we can leverage.

    I agree that there is more to life than fame & that the vast majority of content on the internet is genuine and helpful. Wikipedia’s success is a terrific example of this.

    It will be interesting to see the kinds of online reputation systems that emerge as user-generated content spreads even further.

  2. Brett,

    Thank you for sharing that charity-based review incentive program, that is an outstanding idea that I hope we can leverage.

    I agree that there is more to life than fame & that the vast majority of content on the internet is genuine and helpful. Wikipedia’s success is a terrific example of this.

    It will be interesting to see the kinds of online reputation systems that emerge as user-generated content spreads even further.

  3. Brett Hurt

    Brian,

    Interesting read on YouTube. It seemed inevitable given the competitive moves they needed to respond to.

    At Ice.com, you may be interested to know that The Home Depot Canada recently launched a product review incentive program for customers, where for every approved review they will donate $2 to a non-profit named Evergreen. You can read more about it here:
    http://tinyurl.com/6ylxh9

    I do think authenticity matters. The stakes for corporations are higher than individuals, that’s true. But everyone has their reputation to care about. Check out last month’s Wired magazine article about Julia Allison. Yes, she’s “famous”. But what is she really famous for? It would be embarrassing to everyone I personally know if they were famous for what she is famous for. Life is about more than fame. It is about self-improvement, community, career, and family.
    http://tinyurl.com/5577su

    Fame today, shame tomorrow.

    But at the end of the day what really matters is trust. People watch videos or read content in different modalities. It all comes down to what type of audience you are trying to reach and what you are trying to motivate them to do. Do they trust the content? And do they behave the way you want them to after they see/read it? And the same goes for the person that wrote it. Ultimately, most want to be trusted and they want you to take action and be happy as a result of that action. And that is one of the many reasons that product reviews written by customers trying to help each other is so powerful. See this study for more:
    http://blog.bazaarvoice.com/2007/11/28/why-customers-write-reviews/

  4. Brett Hurt

    Brian,

    Interesting read on YouTube. It seemed inevitable given the competitive moves they needed to respond to.

    At Ice.com, you may be interested to know that The Home Depot Canada recently launched a product review incentive program for customers, where for every approved review they will donate $2 to a non-profit named Evergreen. You can read more about it here:
    http://tinyurl.com/6ylxh9

    I do think authenticity matters. The stakes for corporations are higher than individuals, that’s true. But everyone has their reputation to care about. Check out last month’s Wired magazine article about Julia Allison. Yes, she’s “famous”. But what is she really famous for? It would be embarrassing to everyone I personally know if they were famous for what she is famous for. Life is about more than fame. It is about self-improvement, community, career, and family.
    http://tinyurl.com/5577su

    Fame today, shame tomorrow.

    But at the end of the day what really matters is trust. People watch videos or read content in different modalities. It all comes down to what type of audience you are trying to reach and what you are trying to motivate them to do. Do they trust the content? And do they behave the way you want them to after they see/read it? And the same goes for the person that wrote it. Ultimately, most want to be trusted and they want you to take action and be happy as a result of that action. And that is one of the many reasons that product reviews written by customers trying to help each other is so powerful. See this study for more:
    http://blog.bazaarvoice.com/2007/11/28/why-customers-write-reviews/

  5. Hilarious example, Leroy Jenkins is a classic.

    To me the internet has become a much higher stakes version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, and the potential for these “internet famous” to monetize their own content is getting greater and greater.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=75

    What I also remember about “America’s Funniest Home Videos” were the numerous videos that seemed absolutely fake.

    There’s already well-documented evidence about the backlash risks for corporations being unauthentic (see Walmart across America), but there’s very little financial risk to an individual besides the loss of reputation.

    As more and more individuals realize their five minutes of fame could translate into their first five million, will consumers of internet content be able to discern between elaborate staging and natural reality? Does it even matter?

  6. Hilarious example, Leroy Jenkins is a classic.

    To me the internet has become a much higher stakes version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, and the potential for these “internet famous” to monetize their own content is getting greater and greater.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=75

    What I also remember about “America’s Funniest Home Videos” were the numerous videos that seemed absolutely fake.

    There’s already well-documented evidence about the backlash risks for corporations being unauthentic (see Walmart across America), but there’s very little financial risk to an individual besides the loss of reputation.

    As more and more individuals realize their five minutes of fame could translate into their first five million, will consumers of internet content be able to discern between elaborate staging and natural reality? Does it even matter?

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