Have YOU been to the Alltel Man Cave yet?

By now you’ve probably seen the new Alltel branding campaign Head-to-Head on TV. In the ads, Chad, the cool Alltel rep, does battle with the geeky, dorky and all-together uncool "sales guys" from the Big 4 carriers. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile seem to make it their life mission to take down Chad and Alltel. And, of course, they’re always unsuccessful.

Not a bad branding campaign for standing out in the saturated US wireless market, but Alltel went even further (into Web 2.0 territory) by creating a virtual world for these characters in the Man Cave, a place where the carrier sales guys can hide out and scheme up ways to fight Alltel. The Man Cave is a glimpse into their uncool, yet strangely fascinating, world.

Take a virtual stroll over to officialmancave.com. The Man Lounge, the Man-brary, the Kitchen, the Spy Wall"¦ there’s a lot to explore here. I’m not going to give the whole site away — you’ll have to check it out yourself (which I highly recommend; I played with the site for 45 minutes the first time I went there)!

While it’s certainly a fun way to kill an hour, I started wondering if officialmancave.com was drawing significant traffic — and how that traffic relates to alltel.com. The site launched in July, so I took a look at traffic levels to both sites from August to October.

Predictably, officialmancave.com pulled in its highest traffic to date close to launch in August. Then that traffic level shrank in September as the newness of the site wore off. Traffic had no significant change in October.

What is encouraging for Alltel is that the share of Man Cave visitors who also visited Alltel’s site is significant and has grown since the launch of the Man Cave site.

In August, 57% of visitors to officialmancave.com also visited alltel.com. That share of visitors grew to 69% in October, a 22% increase in the amount of people visiting both sites.

While online marketers have grown more sophisticated in finding ways to extend awareness and branding through creative, virtual worlds such as the Man Cave, it’s been unclear as to whether those efforts truly increase interest and conversion of the company’s products (like last week’s blog post on the Geico caveman). But for Alltel the numbers tell a positive story — traffic is flowing between the Man Cave and alltel.com at a growing rate. It’s obvious that there are many ways to get to the Alltel site from the Man Cave, but it’s also very easy to get to the Man Cave through Alltel’s site. The link is right on the main page, and visible no matter where you navigate to on alltel.com. The next logical step, then, would be to determine which way that traffic flows. Are there more Man Cave visitors moving on to alltel.com or is it the other way around?

No matter what the future holds for the Man Cave, it looks like Alltel has hit upon a pretty unique and entertaining way of engaging consumers with the Alltel brand.

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