Brammo in the Wall Street Journal

From an article about Brammo’s winning bid in the Crispin Porter + Bogusky slave intern auction, in the Wall Street Journal:

Bidding $17,655 On eBay, Brammo Wins An Ad Campaign

Nearly every issue of VentureWire mentions a start-up raising venture capital and using a portion of that funding for sales and marketing. Getting the word out about a new product is an important part of a young company’s success.

But it ain’t cheap. And in times when it’s increasingly important for a start-up to run lean, marketing budgets are likely to take a hit.

Brammo Inc. is one of those companies that needs to generate some buzz. In July, Ashland, Ore.-based Brammo will launch the Enertia, an all-electric, modern take on a cafe racer-style motorcycle. The bike will first go through a trial sales test in West Coast area Best Buy stores, as the company counts the retailer’s venture arm Best Buy Capital as a shareholder.

“We’ve got some ideas about how to go after our marketing and we want to be cost effective and creative,” Chief Executive Craig Bramscher said. “Best Buy obviously has a lot of people coming through their doors, but we want them to really understand electric vehicles.”

So where can a young company find a great deal on an advertising campaign? Auction site eBay, of course.

Last month, advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which has been behind popular campaigns for Burger King, Microsoft and Volkswagen in recent years, allowed their 40 summer interns to auction their services on eBay as a way to earn some extra cash beyond minimum wage. By the time the auction ended on Wednesday, the interns received 44 bids, with Brammo the winner for $17,655.

“I bid once and forgot about it,” Bramscher said. “Then I got an email reminder. I had forgotten that the auction was expiring. I placed a bid with about 30 seconds left and we were fortunate to win.”

Bramscher said he held his first meeting with Crispin Porter + Bogusky on Monday. He’s looking for a disruptive campaign, heavy on social media. Brammo’s internal marketing efforts have already been Web 2.0 savvy. The home page features a feed of Brammo blog mentions, Google News mentions and a Twitter stream, while its contact page includes a Google Map and the bios of executive team members are all Diggable.

“As a start-up we’re trying to find ways to be creative,” Bramscher said. “Getting to mind-share 40 people well connected in social media will be great.”

Bramscher thinks a summer working on Brammo ads is also a great opportunity for the interns. “They can say ‘What did I do this summer? I built a global brand.’ That’s pretty cool.”

Bramscher said he’s confident that Crispin Porter + Bogusky has selected interns that will produce agency quality ideas. And, for that, he said the price was right.

“We did some simple math and we’re paying less than a buck an hour,” Bramscher said. “It’s quite a bit cheaper.”

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

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