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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Mailchimp x Serial Podcast: Real-Time Marketing Surprise and Delight

Finalist in Innovative Media Buying Strategy, Real Time Response


Over 8 years ago, one young girl's mispronunciation of "chimp" as "kimp" spawned the now famous phrase “Mailkimp.” It was during this ad recording as a result of our partnership with the podcast Serial, that a strong bond was built with listeners who came to adore our uniquely addictive opening to the show.

Fast forward 8 years later, an opportunity to rekindle that relationship with listeners arose. Given the sensitive nature of the news driving the opportunity, could we bring a bit of nostalgia to listeners in an unexpected way?

Strategy and Execution

News broke..and so did the internet. 

On September 17th, 2022 news broke that a court hearing for Adnan Syed’s case was scheduled. By September 19th, Adnan Syed was freed from prison after 23 years, his conviction vacated. That same day, news broke that Sarah Koenig, who led the original “Serial” podcast investigation, was at the courthouse. It had been over 8 years since an episode about this story had been released. A new episode was scheduled for release the next day and anticipation began to bubble. Not only about the episode, but if Mailchimp would be in it.

For those unfamiliar, Serial was released in 2014. Serial's team asked Mailchimp to sign on as the podcast's advertiser. Our “Mailkimp” ad took the internet by storm. News articles were written, remixes were created, celebrities tweeted about it, and even an SNL skit was made.

A real-time opportunity to rekindle a relationship with listeners.

By 7pm on September 19th , “Adnan Syed” and “Serial” were the #2 & #3 trending Twitter topics in the United States. Our team continued to analyze conversation during the day. One in particular rose up amongst the chatter. Would Mailchimp and its “Mailkimp” ad make its triumphant return? With the historical significance of our brand being associated with Serial, a real “real-time” marketing opportunity became available. 


While exciting, there were a few hurdles and considerations.

  1. Given the sensitivities of this case, is this an appropriate time to reinsert our brand?

  2. Our ad was 8 years old, can we update it quickly enough to reflect who we are today?

  3. The podcast was coming out in 24hrs. How do we logistically and operationally make this happen?


Once we had the greenlight, our brand and media teams leapt into action to get this off the ground. Within less than 24 hours, we identified, negotiated, reshot and aired our new ad read.

The Execution

The evening of Sept 19, we rushed to kick off conversations with the New York Times on the feasibility of airing a spot within the new episode. Deadlines were tight since the new episode was dropping at midnight, and there was immediate concern since Mailchimp and New York Times were uncertain where to find the original audio file since it was produced by Serial years ago. 

We considered running our current audio spot for Guesswork, but we also knew that it would be a less impactful moment given the nostalgia of the "Mailkimp" spot that so many still recognize our brand from to this day. Fortunately, The New York Times was able to get a copy of the spot for our review and approval. This was one issue though - the spot mentions our 2014 customer number of +5MM instead of the growth we've had to +12MM. 

The New York Times was able to re-record a portion of the original ad with the updated customer number, but it would have to wait until the team was back in the office the following day. This meant missing some of the earlier listeners of the new episode. While not ideal, we decided to temporarily launch our original spot with the 5MM customer number in the morning while we awaited the updated version. In the afternoon, we were able to successfully swap out for the new spot. 

The final media plan included 100% SOV on the new episode of Serial and the backlog of Season 1. We ran within pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll from 9/20-9/30.


We delighted people and brought them back in time.

Given the circumstances of the resurfacing Serial, there was certainly a pause on whether people would be open to our brand participating in this moment. The news was a sensitive topic. After analyzing social commentary post-integration, listeners were genuinely excited about our brand being involved. Similar to hearing your favorite song from 5 years ago, the ad brought them back to 2014, a time when the first season of Serial aired.

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