Growing Beets to Grow Business

April 1st, 2010

Looking for a quiet weekend getaway in Honesdale, Pennsylvania? Try staying at Schrute Farms “the number one beet-related agroturism destination in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The destination’s TripAdvisor Page contains a map, list of nearby restaurants and attractions, travel fair deals, 220 photos, and more than six hundred user reviews that describe personal “experiences” at Schrute Farms—both positive and negative, giving the bed and breakfast an 81% approval rating overall.

But look a little closer and you will see that Schrute Farms is not real. It is a fictional beet farm, and is the property of Dwight K. Schrute—a character on NBC’s The Office. TripAdvisor posted a warning on its site: “Message from TripAdvisor: As seen on NBC’s The Office. Have fun reading these reviews – go on, add your own! Just don’t try to book a visit here, because this fictional place doesn’t really exist.”

It seems strange that TripAdvisor would create an entire web page devoted to an imaginary destination. However, according to a March 29 article in the New York Times, TripAdvisor’s strategy has proven more smart than silly: In a 2007 episode of The Office, Dwight used TripAdvisor when he turned Schrute Farms into a bed and breakfast. Multiple characters wrote reviews of Dwight’s B&B on the show. Since then, reruns and DVD’s featuring this episode have drawn large numbers of visitors to TripAdvisor—which means more attention and more business for the travel site.

TripAdvisor first made the Schrute Farms page as a joke. Creative Office fans playing along contributed many of the detailed reviews of Schrute Farms on the site. But the effects of this product placement have gone far beyond fun for TripAdvisor.

Simply mentioning and showing the TripAdvisor brand in a hit show turned into tangible business for the company, reminding us that even fictional beet farms can have real consequences and sometimes what appear to be the silliest marketing strategies are actually the smartest.

With only three bedrooms, Schrute Farms is sure to fill up quickly. So book your reservations—or write your review—today.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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