After that day, there were many Director's pressuring me to pull the ads and wrote emails to this effect. I'm sure quite a few people thought I should be removed and considered this the biggest black eye in the history of this proud online pioneer. They however, didn't have the data that I had at my finger tips. I ended up writing a one page response defending the ads which I pinned on my desk for the next 3 years and didn't remove until my last day in the office. Of course, I don't have the data, but the results went like this:
- Click rates sky rocketed (no surprise there)
- Conversion rates dropped a little (again no surprise)
- Brand awareness metrics, intent to purchase and any other branding metric you can think of went WAY UP.
- New accounts per day increased and cost per new account decreased
Clearly, we had a winner because for all the bad press that we had out there, it was overwhelmed by the added new accounts. Eventually, things calmed down in the office and almost everyone could laugh about launch day. We even had her image up on the home page (face only) and that ad went on to be the most popular ad we ran for THREE years running. I'd go to meetings and people would always mention that ad when they heard I was from Harrisdirect. Yahoo flew me out to present the results and I have Jerry Yang's autograph of a screen shot of Elsie. Everything was great until we started noticing more activity in message boards again.
It seems a blog, Deftone.com and a few other websites were tracking (or stalking) Elsie Lee. There was even an analysis of the removal of her nipples from the ads and some commentary on what was going on (simple, I was getting yelled at). Elsie had a cult following online; it was so bad, that I actually started running PPC ads on the term Elsie Lee or Elsie Lee, Harrisdirect to take advantage of the traffic. There was even a contractor who posted her resume online with the following words towards the bottom "I am not the Elsie Lee from Harrisdirect". For months and maybe up to a year, they couldn't figure out her real name, but clearly everyone liked the ads. We liked them so much and knew of the cult following, that we decided to bring Jamil back for round 2....