Google’s padlocked box unlocked business potential amongst SME's

Submitted by: Elizabeth Tindall 20/12/2016

google lock box


Google needed to break into Japan – a country that is notoriously mistrusting of foreign companies – and demonstrate to entrepreneurs and SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) the power of Google Adwords for sales.  

With SMEs regularly inundated with tools to generate leads through all the different channels, it was a challenge to cut through the clutter in a very low-interest category.

The Case Study

Google knew that once business people experience AdWords for themselves, they almost invariably become converts. So they set out to lure SME’s online to engage with their product.

Using a new algorithm (developed specifically for the campaign) Google whittled down over 80,000 leads to a list of just 1,000, high potential, prospect SME’s and mailed them a padlocked box.  On the front was an intriguing message: “Find the Key to Business Success with Google”.

The box could be opened using a code; found by only searching for a phrase using  Google. Searching for the combination to the locked box automatically led to the business people actively engaging with Google and experiencing firsthand how AdWords works.

On unlocking the box they found a Japanese scroll and fan that not only presented Google in a playful and human way, it demonstrated Google’s commitment to the Japanese marketplace. The scroll provided more information about AdWords and included a pURL that held tailored details about Google’s advertising solutions and offered direct access to Google Japan’s sales team.

For a pure online player, using offline media to communicate their message was an unusual step but Google knew that SME’s would find it difficult to ignore this beautiful, yet puzzling box, once it landed on their desk. 


The padlocked box was the key to success in Japan.

No less than 95% of the target group sought the code to open the box via Google AdWords and 51% of them answered a questionnaire on the custom microsite.

The return on investment was impressive: Google has recorded a ROI of 90:1.

Case Submitted By: Market Reach


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