How Zend Technologies’ Marketing Department Got ElePHPants right

Ask any developer their preference, and they will choose to proudly display an elePHPant (not elephant) on their desk, rather than to wear a promotional t-shirt, or use a promotional pen. What makes elePHPants so desirable?

For those who may be interested, this article tells the story of how the PHP elePHPant came about. It tells the story of how a creative community came together to promote PHP as a programming language, using an elePHPant as a mascot. And they did it so well that the elePHPant is now strongly associated with the PHP language.

I was at ZendCon beginning of October to see what’s new with PHP. Aside from the training sessions I attended, I saw a high demand for the plush elePHPants that Zend Technologies was giving out. Everyone was exited to see elePHPants in different sizes and colors, especially Chili, the new red elePHPant. But even with the release of Chili, the older green, blue, and pink elePHPants were still popular. In fact, a pink elePHPant was stolen from a display booth (but hopefully later returned)!

Zend Technologies’ marketing department promotes the elePHPant on their blog. By promising the release of Chili, the red elePHPant at ZendCon 2013, they generated interest for that event and many subsequent events where Chili would be in attendance (something any creative agency should take note of).  Even better: they were nice enough to ask PHP developers around the world what colour the new elePHPant should be, and developers being as sensible as they are, chose red. The demand I saw for the elephants illustrates how much developers liked the color.

The demand was high enough that almost all the developers that attended ZendCon 2013 jumped through hoops to get a copy of Chili. This hoop turned out to be an introduction to Zend Server: developers had to install a copy and try it out. Members of the Zend Server team were on hand to observe developers using their product and obtain feedback on what needs to be improved – another way that Zend Technologies shows that they care about developers.

As a developer at Function Point, I can see that our processes are similar. Although, sadly, we don’t have a furry elePHPant mascot, we also constantly improve our internal processes and listen to customer feedback and take it seriously. Bug fixes are always a priority, and we balance those with new features that we are excited to release every month.  As a software-as-a-service provider, we are able to constantly improve our user experience without requiring our customers to do anything to get the best we have to offer.

Function Point is proud to use PHP as our primary development language.  We’re also proud to display our elephants in the fp. dev room.  So since it’s so difficult to find these elePHPants outside of a PHP convention, or even for sale – even Google doesn’t know to find them – the fp. dev team would like to ask Zend Technologies to send us a few red (or even pink!) elePHPants to join our herd.

Samson Chee| fp. Software Engineer

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