Why Kijiji (quickly) produced a five-month long, non-stop podcast

In October, a team of Dutch broadcasters set a world record for the longest podcast, at 153 hours. Last week Kijiji pressed play on a podcast that went past 195 hours today (Wednesday) and still has another 3,455 hours to go.

The five-month long podcast is a campaign from BBDO to raise awareness of Kijiji Autos, the online marketplace which has more than 200,000 vehicles available for purchase right now, when most people have to wait five months to get a new car.

The podcast, WaitListening, covers automotive-themed topics from electric vehicles to the history of car manufacturing (when we checked in today, it was the value of concept cars), uses text-to-speech technology, and is powered by ChatGPT—the pioneering artificial intelligence from OpenAI that has fascinated much of the world since it was released to the public late last year. The podcast is playing at WaitListening.com in French and English right into September, with Kijiji using social, digital and print ads to promote it.

The idea was to show the absurdity of having to wait so long for a car when you can get one from Kijiji right now, said BBD’s chief creative officer, Max Geraldo. “We’re just telling people the obvious—don’t wait five months. It’s as ridiculous as listening to a podcast for five months,” he said.  “I love when that simplicity turns into something new and unique that hasn’t been done before.”

The campaign is an example of the larger Kijiji Canada playbook, which was rewritten by CMO Adam Jardine when he took over in May 2021 and hired BBDO. Together they’ve been putting out a steady stream of quick-hit activations, stunts and advertising, inspired by the pop cultural conversation of the moment and injected with irony and humour—campaigns like WaitListening, but also the “I-Kijiji-A catalogue” and selling off its original source code. The Message spoke with Jardine and Geraldo about WaitListening and the quick-twitch model they’ve been using to help build the Kijiji brand in Canada.

BBDO’s Max Geraldo

Max, you did WaitListening using ChatGPT. Could you have done this a year ago? 

MG: This is not a technology idea. That’s what I love the most about this—this is not an AI idea, it’s an idea that was solved by AI. I love when we find solutions and creativity that are like that: The technology comes in to solve a problem in an almost invisible way.

What we wanted to do is a podcast that will last as long as the wait for a car, how to solve that? There’s technology available to that, not the other way around.

It could have been done analogue—you can have a group of writers for years writing, that’s possible, right? Technology makes it viable—it’s [moving] from possible to viable, which is what I love when we use technology.

But certainly there’s a lot of industry interest in ChatGPT and AI. Have your creative teams been playing with it much?  

MG: Yeah, absolutely. We need to because there’s no future without AI….  What creatives need to learn is how to better use technology, and not how to fight against it. AI is not competing with creativity at all, because creativity is part of the human experience. Creativity is whatever only humans can do, and that’s going to be defined millions of times in the future.

AJ: Maybe I can add to that… One of the restrictions that we’ve put in place with the BBDO team is speed to market. So with this idea, to Max’s point, we could have had writers writing this ridiculous podcast for days, just pumping out words and pretend advice. But it would be months before we got that done, and then recorded and then produced and then finally out to market.

I can’t afford to lose that cultural moment [of people waiting for cars]. I can’t afford to do big dollar productions in this climate. So how can we do this? And I think this technology enabled us to hit the mark while delivering on the creative concept under the restrictions that we put forward for the team.

How are people finding out about this?

AJ: We’ve actually pivoted and gone to a social-first space. So it becomes a bit of a test for us. We put it out in its MVP version… and if we’re seeing it’s getting traction. We’re saying ‘Okay, people are liking this, let’s pump a little bit more dollars behind it. Let’s get the radio ads that supports this. Now, let’s get our ambassadors to talk about this.’ And if it doesn’t work—we’ve had ideas that have kind of just fell and stayed in the social space—then we just let them be, but the investment has been very managed in that respect.

Kijiji CMO Adam Jardine

You say you’ve revamped the entire marketing strategy in the last 18 months or so. How did you do that?  

AJ: We’ve moved away from these traditional eight- to 12-week campaigns that happen twice a year, into things that have a constant beat in the market. Our reality at Kijiji post-pandemic is that our budgets are simply not the same as they used to be. And the other side of that coin is the fact that we have, not an awareness problem, but a perception problem.

It’s not that people don’t know who Kijiji is, it’s that there’s a ‘but’ attached to it: ‘Oh it’s Kijiji but…’ or ‘I’ve heard of Kjiji but…’ So we’re trying to overcome those perceptions that exist, to start showing up differently.

And I’ve coined this strategy we’re doing a chameleon strategy, in that we want to look differently… We want to show up in a new light. And we want to do that consistently. Because one campaign is not going to get us there. But if we can consistently show up throughout the year with this new light that’s culturally relevant, that’s modern and fun, people go, ‘Oh, cool, Kijiji’s really doing some interesting stuff,’ and start winning back hearts and minds of folks.

What’s the perception problem?

AJ: Perception is that the product itself hasn’t evolved in some time. We’ve done a lot of work over the last two years to modernize our solution for folks, and we feel really good about where the product is now. But it does mean that we have to go out and reintroduce ourselves to people.

How many of these quick campaigns are you rolling out?

AJ: It’s an undefined number. I have a goal of being out twice a quarter at least, but I pushed the team to think how they can push that a little further. And it’s worth saying that not all of them are made to the same degree in terms of complexity, as well. Some are very simple social-first ideas. Some have a bit more production value behind them, like WaitListening, and some are far more involved like the I-Kijiji-A catalogue, which had a lot of moving parts.

What’s the briefing process on this? 

AJ: There’s a briefing process, but it’s very different than how a traditional relationship would exist.

One of the big things that I introduced when I joined Kijiji was moving ourselves to a sprint-based model.  So we work in two weeks sprints, and we plan up to six weeks out, and we commit to [ideas] two weeks prior and have an ongoing ticketing system where we’re saying this is coming down the pipeline.

This notion of you’re going to go away for four weeks, you’re going to do a big creative idea pitch, we can’t do that. So it changed the entire working model together. So now the BBDO team joins us in sprint planning, where we’re saying okay, what’s coming up? They have that level of visibility so they can plan their creative teams accordingly. So not catching teams off guard.

Max, how important is earned media when working on these ideas?

MG: It is [important], but we can’t only rely on that. As Adam said, we’re testing things in real time, right? We launched things and then we started to get traction. We need that stopping power, and we need that buzz-worthiness for the idea. And I think that Adam is brilliant at detecting that—when we present ideas, he always points at the one that will be more provocative and cause more buzz. It’s tough to get there. The way we work now, at that speed, it’s adds complexity, but it’s a lot more exciting.

But to be honest, I think that the way we work, it’s a lot more progressive and contemporary. And I think that our audience relates to that better [with] our current problem, which is changing perception. We need to be close to culture, we need to be dialoguing. And that dialogue doesn’t happen if it’s just like two times a year. We need to be asking and answering all the time.

David Brown