Love and hate for the 404 error campaign

If you have visited the Pingdom homepage in the last few days, you have seen a 404 error message instead of our regular homepage. However, it is actually a campaign where we have changed the error message from “404 page not found” to “404 price not found” (see the image below).

404 - Price not found!

We thought this was a fun and clever way to illustrate how frustrating it can be for an end user to receive an error page instead of the intended page (since it is one of the things our service can detect). Of course, in this specific case the message is positive, not negative.

This campaign has received a lot of feedback both from new visitors and our existing users. Most of it has been very positive, but the campaign has also caused some amount of confusion with some of our customers who at a quick glance thought it was a real 404 error page. (After this we actually took the safe route and sent out a brief email informing our customers that no, we are not having a problem.)

We thought it would be interesting to share a fraction of both the positive and the negative emails we have received so far. Some loved it, some hated it (very few, thank God), and some were just really curious how it was going. (A lot of people who didn’t say anything obviously also liked it because we have received a lot of new customers.)

Love

This is brilliant. Give the girl or guy who thought of this a raise! Love the idea!

We removed an f-word…

A creative ‘geek’ *must* have thought that up!

Big ups!

The people behind Pingdom definitely belong in the geek category. 🙂

I cursed and then I realized it was a GOOD error message. Great idea!

Hate

This 404 error and your email have caused some panic for me.
Pingdom is a critical system for me and emails from you trigger alarms.
Please don’t do it again.

We were really sorry about this one.

I would fire your marketing director – horrible idea.

Ouch…

And the really curious

I really want to know how many support queries you get about this 🙂

Conclusion

The thing is that normal, everyday advertising can easily be quite boring and we wanted this one to stand out from the crowd. We are creative people and like to be a bit playful, but we will think twice before doing something similar again. Why?

A lot of people got the point and loved it, but some people really didn’t get it at all. This is of course always a risk, but we really had no intention of confusing anyone. In retrospect we should perhaps have been less subtle in our approach, even though the campaign as a whole has been a definite success.

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