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Did You Mean

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MailChimp had gained notoriety in 2014 by sponsoring the cult podcast, Serial. In it, the brand’s audio ad had a moment where people mispronounced it – calling it “MailKimp’ instead of ‘MailChimp’. This small mispronunciation became a meme, and took on a life of its own.  

Taking advantage of this moment, the brand created a campaign around exactly that: stuff that sounds like the word MailChimp. It called it “Did you mean MailChimp?”  

The creative team created nine new ways MailChimp was mispronounced – mostly comical, mostly ridiculous – all unbranded.   

The intention was to create intrigue so that people would search to find out more – and ultimately discover the creative spirit of MailChimp was behind the fun and weirdness.  

The nine new mispronunciations - MaleCrimpKaleLimpMailShrimpFailChipsJailBlimpVeilHymnNailChampWhaleSynthSnailPrimp – were developed as an activation in their own right.   

For media, that meant taking nine seemingly disparate creative concepts, and turning it into a highly orchestrated, carefully navigated web of content experience and discovery.   

MailChimp customers are small business owners or decision makers in design and creative fields:  designers, developers, writers. They have a discerning eye and sharp taste, but are elusive to reach with traditional advertising. 

So, the agency had to develop a sophisticated and integrated media campaign that would make them want to know more. 


Each of the nine projects was a cultural activation that needed a strategy and context of their own. PHD treated each as a brand in its own right, which essentially meant sub-strategies for each one.  

For example, for FailChips - a packet of broken potato chips – it launched like a CPG brand, with sampling, outdoor at point of purchase, and partnerships with Eater and Munchies.  

For VeilHymn - a musical collaboration between real artists – it acted like a music distributer, working with VEVO, Soundcloud, Spotify and Noisey 

The agency worked with Paper Magazine, Racked and Buzzfeed to make men with crimped hair a thing for MaleCrimp 

It took this approach for each of the nine executions, identifying their unique cultural context, the channels that would best bring it to life, and the media partners to make it credible.  

Then, the most complex task was to tie it all together.  


Each “Did You Mean MailChimp?” execution had a media plan that mirrored the customer journey for its category.  

This campaign, in its entirety, worked across cinema, TV, influencers, bloggers, print, outdoor, digital, social, editorial and events. You get the point. This was an integrated media campaign.   

But the nine executions couldn’t live in isolation of each other. With a modest budget, the risk was a fragmented media plan would reduce the potential reach and impact. So, PHD created a search and retargeting structure to tie it all together.  

The agency retargeted users seamlessly across video, content and social, and served them more executions from the campaign to bring them further into the fold. 

It drove frequency and variety, making every message seen a chance to see the next one. And it closed the loop by directing people to a landing page with a discreet reveal that its MailChimp behind the campaigns.  


This campaign took a B2B email marketing brand and turned it into a food item, a song, a fashion trend and more.  

It planted trends. It created products. It made media.  

It turned a meme into a moment by creating enough intrigue to drive curious minded creative folks to search online for answers. It then unleashed a web of content and experiences that made people want to discover more.  

Nine seemingly disparate creative activations were spun a web of connectivity and discovery.  

Think that sounds interesting? So did thousands of curious creative entrepreneurs.  

70% of people who saw the campaign said it gave them a better sense of MailChimp’s personality.  

The lift in key brand attribute scores was considerable:  
- Inspiring +25% 
- Authentic +19% 
- Cool +16%. 

After the campaign, there was a 20% increase in awareness of MailChimp and an increase in overall affinity for the brand of +18%.  

Media Results:  
- 3.8 million organic searches across MailChimp and individual campaign concepts 
- +29% more visits to MailChimp’s digital ecosystem 
- $3.52m earned media value, proving it created culture rather than chasing it.

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