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Waging a Battle of Sexes for Incredible Marketing Results

Mike Santoro

Whos Smarter Than How Trivial Pursuit ExperimentYesterday morning I popped onto Digg and saw the headline, “Hey, Guys, They’re Kicking Our Butts at Trivial Pursuit”. Full disclosure, I’m awesome at Trivial Pursuit (I think everyone believes this about themselves), so I took it personally that I was losing a competition that I didn’t even know I was in. As I read, it got worse – Team Man was being utterly dominated by Team Woman.

I instantly clicked through to score some points to defend my gender. And all the while the marketing team promoting the new edition of Trivial pursuit smiled at their results.

In anticipation of the new Trivial Pursuit Team edition, an interactive trivia website Who’s Smarter Than Who, was launched to test people’s skills in trivia. It’s publicized as a “Trivial Pursuit Experiment” and by asking you to represent your gender it’s launched a wave of publicity that offers a number of lessons in promotion via traditional media channels and social media.

The site does a number of things really well. It is professional looking and easy to use. It asks good questions and is generally a fun way to kill 20 minutes. But let’s be honest, the brilliance behind the site is in pitting the genders against one another.

Whos Smarter Than How Trivial Pursuit Experiment2

I’ve been playing Trivial Pursuit since grade school (when we could answer roughly 1 out of 100 questions correctly). Even then, if you had guys and girls playing, it would inevitably break down into a battle of the sexes team battle. Maybe I’ve just grown up with ultra competitive friends, but there seems a need on both sides to say, “I’m better than you,” and then objectively prove it.

It was that primal instinct that Who’s Smarter Than Who tapped into. Getting good coverage was the second key, though with a great concept this step was almost assured. Add social media and you’ve just poured gasoline on the fire.

The site launched on 10/7 and looked like it got decent coverage initially. A couple of really good outlets had picked up the story and solid traffic was being driven to the site. Then the viral nature of the story accelerated the story to new speeds.

Network World’s Buzzblog by Paul McNamara issued a call to arms at 5:17 am on 10/27, “Hey, guys, they’re kicking our butts in Trivial Pursuit”. Great title. He explained the concept and pointed out the growing dominance of the women, “As I type this morning, the gap has swelled to 58-42% -- 353,753 to 258,879 -- where it's been holding steady since Sunday ... Oh, swell.” He goes on to offer some potential explanations, but finally comes to the conclusion that women have shown their superiority:

No, fellas, we're getting trivialized, all right.

The only unanswered question is whether we're going to do anything about it.

It’s a stupid online game. This “call to arms” couldn’t possibly have any impact right? It did, proving I’m not the only male with an ego. The post made its way through Reddit, Fark, and eventually Digg. And McNamara kept us updated on the battle:

(Update, 3:15 p.m.: A mere 10 hours after my posting of this item -- and with the help of sites such as Reddit and Fark -- what was earlier today a 16-percentage-point margin, has been narrowed to less than 1 percent; it's now 50.4% to 49.6% in favor of the women. ... My work here is almost done.)

(Update 2, 4:15 p.m.: The guys are now ahead 51% to 49% out of a total of 785,500 correct answers logged. A full 22% of those answers -- 173,000 -- have been registered just since this morning.)

(Update, Wednesday, 8:15 a.m.: Welcome Diggers. The turnaround on the scoreboard is complete this morning as there now have been 950,864 correct answers registered with the men holding a 54% to 46% advantage.)

So for now, the men are victorious, but even more successful are the marketing minds behind Trivial Pursuit. In one day, participation increased by almost 10 times. I won’t wager how many people have visited the site, but based on the number of correct responses, it’s a lot. And I expect that exposure to lead to a good amount of holiday sales.

Congratulations Trivial Pursuit on a well executed concept. And congratulations to you, males of the world. As of right now we stand 100,000 points up on the fairer sex. Ladies, it’s your roll.