There’s plenty of chatter about Microsoft’s new viral video. Great. You got some people to watch it, and with this post, even more. At a technical level, the spot is working (pun intended). At a brand level, I am at a loss.
The Viral Spiral—a fun way to look at some of the biggest viral spots since 2006—has been spiced up since its last appearance in 2011. You can filter by year, shares and sector; see synopses of the major themes in each year; and learn all sorts of sharing-related info-nuggets. As a nod to the year of prankvertising, Unruly also threw in an "infoprank," so don't worry if the NSA appears to be tracking you while you browse.
Here’s the million dollar question: What is it that turns an idea into an internet meme?
The sharing impulse is an increasingly important tool for marketers. These recent examples of successful virality foreground what makes a social person want to click and pass along.
Are we jaded? Is SXSW too crowded to anyone to stand out?
Me, I got my Valentine early: I didn't have to watch the Super Bowl ads this year until, you know, the Super Bowl. It was fannnnnntastic. I got to experience the game like a normal slob, with a lap full of taco dip and genuine curiosity about how unfunny the Bud Light spots would be this year. It fell to my colleague Ken Wheaton to harvest the crop ahead of time.
Hello marketers. Look at your marketing. Now at this Old Spice campaign. Now back at your marketing. Now back again. Sadly, your marketing isn't the Old Spice campaign. And guess what? Even if we want to switch to the Old Spice campaign strategy, few of us will ever have the resources for that kind of effort.
Procter & Gamble's Old Spice was just another guy brand with an entertaining spokesman in its TV commercials until the brand's agency, Wieden + Kennedy, put Isaiah Mustafa on the Web recently and invited fans to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets to pose questions that he quickly answered. The questions poured in--even celebrities asked a few--and Mustafa responded in more than 180 Web videos shot quickly over a few days. The real-time effort was the first of its kind, but it won't be the last. Marketers are eager to find clever new ways to engage consumers online with branded content and interactive advertising that is good enough to make people want to share it with their network of friends.
If an ad is to work – make people talk about it, love it and want to take a stake in sharing it – it must become a social object. Many a viral campaign acts as a social object because it becomes part of the cultural conversation – people talk about it, and ultimately act as the medium for the message. But for an ad to take on meaning for the consumers that it speaks to – and to get them to take action as a result of it – it must be driven by a purpose-idea. A purpose idea is the emotional, intrinsic reason that will motivate an individual to want to buy the product – and the reasons why the product was created to begin with. A sense of safety and security from purchasing a certain brand of car, a boost in self-confidence from wearing a sexy heel (and the looks it may generate), or a sense that whole grain will nourish you and contribute to a healthier, lighter and longer life.
Shared links have a longer shelf life on Facebook than Twitter, and Buzzfeed sends more traffic through re-shares than direct clicks. That's two of the things my agency learned when we launched a stealth social-media experiment through a site we created called Jerzify Yourself. Jerzify Yourself was created in January of this year, a week after the season one finale of the popular MTV show "Jersey Shore" that attracted an audience of 4.8 million. The site, written in a few days in Flash, allows users to upload their headshot onto a stylized body and morph themselves into a Jersey Shore "Guido" or "Guidette." Or as New York's Village Voice put it: "The gist is Snooki-grade simple: upload a medium-size jpg, scale the image to fit, choose your spray-tan shade, pick your pose -- and holy Freckles McGee, you're magically recast as a human meatball." Why did we do this? To evaluate the power of social media and spreadable content.
Old Spice has made history, dominating YouTube last week with 8 of the 11 most-watched videos on Friday and racking up tens of millions of views. Its "Smell Like a Man" campaign, in which its spokesmodel quickly shot mostly unscripted and hilariously funny replies to nearly 200 online inquiries (including some from famous people). It prompted numerous copycat videos and got covered by just about every news outlet in America. Now what?
Coca-Cola is free. No, not in calories or caffeine, but the media that fans generate about the brand. Michael Donnelly, the Atlanta-based company's group director of worldwide interactive marketing, speaking at the ANA's Social Media conference in New York on Thursday, said fan-generated content and commentary costs nothing, and is a major benefit of using social media. The company, which fields 500 brands worldwide in some 206 countries, is putting a lot of attention on how to do that as efficiently as possible in its various markets.
That social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness is not new news. But its increasing power is leading some advertisers to reconsider how they plan and measure traditional ad campaigns as they increasingly look to so-called earned media impressions as being as important as primary paid media. The promise of what some are calling "free media" is that it's more credible than paid placements, particularly when it comes from consumers speaking to other consumers.
When it comes to marketing, broadly speaking, the fashion industry is frankly a bit naff, (for my American friends; naff adjective Brit., informal lacking taste or style.) Naff, in the same way that the masses latch on to the latest trend and ruin it for the rest of us. And while I recognize this is part of the cycle of natural selection that leads to cultural change, there’s still so much more of the lowest common denominator kind than the meaningful and creatively extra-ordinary. I’m mostly disappointed by how it latches on to the latest marketing buzzwords and technical possibilities to get more clicks.
Some ideas are a banquet. They go on and on, and invite us to consider what they really mean for hours or days - or sometimes much much longer. Then there are the flashes of insight. The quick sparks that we immediately react to and understand when we hear or see or touch them. These are the types of ideas I wish I could find and share more often. Ideas that inspire in a moment. Starting a movement, for most people, is much more complicated than just having an idea. If you happen to work in a place where this is part of your goal, your questions are often about stakeholders and messages and creating something "viral." We are all seeking the formula that turns that idea into a movement.
The Holy Grail for many marketers is having their big-budget TV spot become a viral hit online, providing millions of dollars worth of free exposure from consumer pass-along. The bad news is the chance of this happening is pretty slim, and even if it does, there's a good chance the spot won't do much to persuade viewers.
New Balance is looking to get a foothold into consumers’ daily lives with a new set of 365 short films—one of which will be released every day over the next year. The 15- to 30-second films, which began appearing online at NewBalance365.com on Feb. 22, are a figurative exploration of the theme of balance. One film, for instance, might feature dueling banjo players performing different parts of the same song. Another film could show the proportional relationship between the sun and clouds.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith sent a series of exasperated Tweets this weekend claiming that he’d been kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too fat”. Proving, perhaps, the speed at which Twitter (Twitter) can spread messages about your brand, the Tweets have been picked up by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC and other major outlets. The incident, which took place on Saturday, resulted in dozens of Tweets on Smith’s account (he has 1.6 million followers at the time of writing).
Sociologists have developed elaborate theories of who spreads gossip and news — who tells whom, who matters most in social networks — but they’ve had less success measuring what kind of information travels fastest. Do people prefer to spread good news or bad news? Would we rather scandalize or enlighten? Which stories do social creatures want to share, and why? Now some answers are emerging thanks to a rich new source of data: you, Dear Reader.
This is something we keep hearing about, how people and companies need to add value. Adding value is fast becoming the new bubble. A few years ago, Marshall Goldsmith, the world's top executive coach, questioned the cost of adding value in his debut post at Fast Company. In the opening, Goldsmith outlines a very powerful piece of advice: In my experience, one of the most common challenges that successful people face is a constant need to win. When the issue is important, they want to win. When the issue is trivial, they want to win. Even when the issue isn't worth the effort or is clearly to their disadvantage, they still want to win.
Agencies and clients alike often talk about “viral marketing” as if it’s something we choose to create. We describe viral as if it’s an inherent quality we can design into our campaigns, or a deliberate strategy we can execute on. But for the handful of “viral campaigns” that explode into cultural phenomena each year, hundreds of other efforts have little or no impact at all. In spite of this, we often continue to insist that we know how to “make things viral,” while also reassuring ourselves that some efforts “just catch on better than others.” Unless we want to spend another year burning time and resources in the pursuit of that belief, it’s time to accept a difficult truth: viral isn’t a quality that we, as marketers, have the power to bestow. In fact, viral isn’t an inherent trait that advertising can have at all. Viral isn’t what a marketing campaign is, but how that campaign spreads. And when a campaign does achieve viral propagation, it’s not simply a function of what we do as designers and planners. Instead, it’s a function of deliberate choices that each consumer makes about what is worth sharing and why.
We’re still almost two weeks away from the Super Bowl – and all of its wannabe viral commercials – but at least one yet-to-be-seen ad is already capturing the imaginations of the Web: a pro-life spot featuring college football star Tim Tebow.
What would you do if you surveyed your customers and they all said you suck? It may seem like a worst case scenario, but companies are faced with this challenge more often than you would think. It is not easy to hear, and in part it is the reason many companies simply don't survey their customers that often. It is easier to look just at metrics like sales or growth and use those to measure success. After all, why bother to ask customers what they really think if you are making money? The problem with this logic is that it doesn't help you to spot threats to your business and plan for the future. Making money is a temporary state ... and one that can be more fragile than you realize.
Within a week of going live on YouTube, Coca-Cola's new "Happiness Machine" video -- the brand's first global video produced exclusively for viral distribution, with no use in TV ads -- has already racked up more than 645,000 views. Coke set up a special vending machine on a real college campus and rolled footage of students' surprised and delighted reactions as the machine proceeded to dispense everything from free bottles of Coke to flowers, a whole pizza, a six-foot sub and balloon animals.
Microsoft Windows 7's launch video was a viral smash. And while some believed it was because people thought "HostingYourParty" was a riotously bad -- Microsoft is enjoying the last laugh. Still, despite the negative attention directed at the instructional video, which was intended for people hosting Windows 7 "house parties," the tech giant managed to reach a lot of consumers. In fact, from Oct. 22-29, more than 800,000 people attended more than 10,000 parties in 12 countries hosted by Windows 7.
Viral-video marketing, as it's traditionally been defined -- create a cute, funny, breathtaking or unexpected piece of content, seed it in the right places, and watch users pass it along -- has developed into a legitimate form of marketing. But what if marketers' fixation on all things viral is leading them to neglect other valuable and more consistently successful online-video strategies?
Viral marketing — the technique of wrangling word-of-mouth to create a buzz around your product or idea — has been a powerful tool since the first caveman started the first rumor. Spreading the word person to person is the stuff of Avon dreams — and Bernie Madoff nightmares. And it requires the confidence to lose control of the message by setting it adrift. The modern age of viral marketing began in the mid 1990s with (of all things) a cultish, childish cable TV show that defined “guilty pleasure” way before Beavis and Butthead. The producers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the premise of MST3K is almost too ridiculous to articulate) knew immediately they had something viable, new and remarkable, and that their best marketers were the show’s smallish but loyal audience. In those dark days before streaming media, they encouraged the show’s viewers to videotape their copyrighted shows, and pass them along to friends — creating that sought after word-of-mouth buzz.
With so many companies in the past few years talking about producing online video and other forms of "branded entertainment," I'm amazed by how people often talk about these trends as if they are new. Radio and early television was full of "product placement" and shows produced directly through the subsidy of major brands, such as The Philco Playhouse and Texaco Star Theater. Nowhere has this trend taken greater hold than the soap opera, where the blend of art and commerce is clear from the very title given to the shows. From their early 1930s radio debut and through the "golden era" of broadcast television, soap operas were the consistent daytime juggernaut that fueled experimentation in primetime.
Since its invention towards the end of the 20th century, the Internet has changed a great many things. And one of the things that is has done time after time is dismantle business models that had seemed, until its arrival, absolutely rock solid. From music to publishing to TV, the Internet has swept away seeming certainties and replaced them with doubt and uncertainty. Whilst this fact can not be argued with, the common perception that the reason these media models have been so badly damaged is due to the rise of UGC is, like so many ‘commonly held facts’, actually untrue.
In 2009, I'd like to say we've all been inoculated from taking the viral metaphor to its extreme, but I've found the strain quite resistant in marketing circles. The "V word" is still cropping up with colleagues, clients, prospects and at industry events all too often. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that a Jupiter Research report last year found that only 15% of advertising labeled "viral" is actually successful.
Viral video marketing has exploded in the years since (and you no longer need Guy Ritchie to direct them). Along the way, there have been some great standouts like Smirnoff's Tea Partay, but also a lot of complete rubbish. This year, it feels like every marketing plan features viral video as a tactic. Yet, many brands treat these videos in the same dull way as placing a grocery cart ad or staging an on-pack promotion. They feel like infomercials. These brands assume that if they build it, viewers will come (and watch, and share).
It's been said that everyone has a double somewhere in the world. Now Coca-Cola is testing that theory with a new promotion for Coke Zero inviting people to find their own doppleganger via Facebook. The Coke Zero Facial Profiler app on Facebook invites users to upload their photos to a database the beverage giant is compiling to match people's faces using "next gen facial recognition technology." The Profiler effort continues the ongoing campaign theme that no-calorie Coke Zero tastes just like the real thing.
When marketers think about “going viral,” they think about creating infectious content and getting it in front of the right people. And while that’s a great place to start, contagious design can also go a long way to help. Here’s 7 things to think about when designing a blog or site for maximum viral effect.
Some of the most iconic companies of our time -- Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter -- attracted millions of users practically overnight, by unleashing what's known as a "viral-expansion loop." In plain English, they grew because each new user led to more users. The trick is that each of these businesses created something people really want and then made it easy for customers to happily spread their products for them to friends, family, and colleagues.
What happens when a social media strategy takes off faster than expected? TGI Friday's found out this month when, after just six days of media support, its new marketing character, Woody, achieved a Facebook promotional goal expected to occur over almost 30 days. The momentum swell that initially buoyed the brand online, in fact, threatened to drag it down -- until some quick thinking helped save the day.
As a consultant working with many brands on social media strategy and efforts, I hear a lot of perceptions about social media. Extended out to the conferences that I attend and sometimes speak at, it is surprising how often I hear the same myths about social media. These are not things that brands are just using as reasons to not engage ... they often come from brands and marketing teams that are actively using social media as well. The following is a selection of some of the myths that I hear most often, as well as some thoughts on why they are simply myths and what your brand can do to get past them.
Young Chinese today are consumed by all things digital. Internet bars, bursting with netizens, are the size of football fields. More than 600 million individuals carry mobile phones and more than 60 million blog, double the number in the U.S. What is less understood is how they engage with new media -- and whether their emotional urges and self-expression are fundamentally different from Western kids.
It WAS bold of marketing directors to invest in digital and social media campaigns a year ago. In revisionist marketing thinking, if you hadn’t done it, you’d be crazy. If you’re the least bit curious about how digital and social media is impacting your brand, I’ll call your attention to a weeklong series about media growth in the F.T.. I’m also trying to demonstrate one of the biggest changes happening in the world of media. Namely that friends are shaping culture more than editors, by doing exactly what I am doing for you: Directing you to an interesting series of articles in the F.T.
YouTube is looking to turn those bolts-from-the-blue viral videos from cash drain into advertising gold. The video-sharing site, under pressure from parent Google to start turning a profit, today began placing ads on the kind of one-off viral hits -- mostly uploaded by the amateurs that made the site famous -- that, until now, haven't had advertising.
On the morning of April 15, 2009, everything looked bright for Domino’s Pizza. The company’s share price had risen overnight, the group’s expansion plan was on track, and the brand was as strong as ever. But at 3:32 pm that very afternoon, the first text messages began beeping their arrival on the CEO’s mobile phone. They kept coming – one after the next, after the next. The phone’s inbox maxed out. The voicemail message light was blinking in overdrive, and soon filled to capacity.
Ben Huh is the first to admit his company could easily have wound up on FAIL Blog. For the uninitiated, that's his wildly popular website to which users submit photos and videos documenting such colossally stupid moves as writing a billboard partly in Braille and using a trash can as a bike helmet. Like the rest of the 20-odd websites Huh owns, FAIL Blog was added to his empire for no more specific reason, he says, than "Dude, I think it's funny."
Spreading a branded video message on the internet isn't alchemy; it's common sense. Trust me, I've seen hundreds -- both good and bad. Here are five things that we're seeing work today to "hit to spread."
For more than five months, a minute-long clip featuring a pair of children gyrating their eyebrows to the old-school hip-hop hit "Don't Stop the Rock" has been one of the most popular videos around, racking up millions of views around the internet. Made by Fallon, London, for Cadbury, "Eyebrow Dance" is one of several odd, soft-selling commercial creations from this side of the Atlantic Ocean now dominating Advertising Age's Viral Video Chart. Its wild popularity, along with that of T-Mobile's "Dance," Evian's "Rollerbabies" and Samsung's LED Sheep, begs the question: What makes U.K. ads so infectious?
At a recent performance of “Next to Normal,” the Broadway musical at the Booth Theater on West 45th Street, Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Diana, a suburban mother with bipolar disorder, was reaching to answer a cordless telephone when she knocked it off the stage. Fourth wall broken, Ms. Ripley asked, with a smile, “Could you hand that to me?” Audience members were suddenly on all fours, but when they could not find the prop, a woman in the front row held up her cellphone, which Ms. Ripley accepted and spoke her lines into before tossing it back, to laughter and applause.
There's something a little heartbreaking about the very existence of "And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture," by Bill Wasik. After all, it's a meditation on living, breathing virality that resides between the hard, dead covers of a book. I can point you to its Amazon page or to any number of reviews and write-ups -- including, most recently, James B. Arndorfer's "Father of Flash Mobs on the Future of Viral" in the Ad Age Bookstore -- but the actual pages of "This" are trapped, even on a Kindle, in their own separate, fixed, unlinked world. And so, for this latest installment of Dumenco's Media People -- an ongoing series of conversations with media grandees -- I took Bill Wasik out for tea recently in New York City, near the headquarters of Harper's Magazine, where he's a senior editor, to attempt some ... interactivity with the living, breathing social-media observer and mischief-maker.
"I love her, she's clean," says Juan Román Riquelme while kissing a soccer ball in a viral video Buenos Aires' digital agency Brandigital made for Adidas. In it, he "hace jueguito" (plays with the ball to show his skills), while being shot at with paintballs. Why did Riquelme -- one of Argentina's most acclaimed and controversial football players -- talk about the ball being clean? Well, "clean" in Argentine slang means untouched and unstained in its honor. And "the ball must not be stained" were Diego Maradona's parting words the days he officially retired as a player.
In order for an idea to spread, someone has to do the spreading. In the dark ages (ten years ago), the only way to spread your idea on a large scale was to do it yourself. Lots and lots of ads. Today, marketers get all sweaty thinking about how this happens magically, virally, for free. If it were only that easy.
As the provocateur behind the Great Flash Mob Craze of 2003, Bill Wasik knows first-hand how quickly stories (trivial or otherwise) can flare up in the wired world, get fanned by the media, and then quickly fizzle. Making way, of course, for another ephemeral story that seems urgent at the time.
Not only are fans spreading the word about products—they're now helping to design and build marketing campaigns from the get-go.
Engine Eddie is an animated character who encourages consumers to take better care of their lawns by offering them the chance to send “EddieGrams” to friends and neighbors. The messages can be personalized to enable the senders to talk up the condition of their lawns -- or suggest that someone else’s lawn needs some help.
As YouTube has grown into the preeminent video sharing service online, marketers have tried, with limited success, to broadcast themselves and to reach audiences with their messaging. And while individuals have used YouTube as a platform to step into the spotlight, most brands have been left behind in the shadows. Save for the occasional media-supported viral video blitz, or user generated contest, commercial success on YouTube has been elusive to the many brands that have tried to reach for that brass ring.
Marketers hope social networkers will watch--and share--Internet ads.
Ah, Mother's Day. The time of year when we thank our mothers for birthing and subsequently raising us by applying googly eyes to popsicle sticks or buying the flower arrangement that's on special. It's no wonder some moms feel a little under-appreciated. Well, Kodak feels their pain and is offering to pick up the slack by raising awareness about the serious condition known as Lackus Appreciatus.
People love their pets almost as much as (and sometimes more than) they love their children. But there are only a few places where people can have the viral fun of, say, an "Elf Yourself," that's geared specifically for the four-legged members of the family.
Microsoft’s latest viral video, which uses the creative theme “Pretending to work,” was actually created by a group of workaholic freelancers who did it on the weekends.
As viral sensations go, it doesn't get much better than "What's G." The cryptic commercial was crammed with celebrities, yet never mentioned that Gatorade was the product. And that sparked a national frenzy of blog chatter and punditry. Earlier this week, Jimmy Smith, the creative director of the TBWA/Chiat/Day group that created the campaign, faced reporters to explain just what "G" was. <div style="padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px;"> <a href="http://adage.com/video"><img src="/images/random/video_alladage417bar.jpg" width="417" height="40" border="0" /></a> </div>
The T-Mobile UK team have a big challenge. How to cut through when you're the number 4 brand, up against 3 bigger competitors who are out-spending you (O2, Vodafone, Orange), in a low-interest category (people are much more interested in the phone than the network). Well, early signs suggest that the latest brand communication may help.
Mountain Dew is hoping its new berry-flavored drink will be "everywhere" on the Web. This week, the PepsiCo-owned brand debuted its "Voltage everywhere" online push directing Dew fans to Dewmocracyvoltage.com. Here, consumers are rewarded with points for virally spreading the word about the product and interacting with the brand. Points can be redeemed for logoed swag, snowboards, an Xbox 360 and other prizes.
Viral marketing is an idea that spreads--and an idea that while it is spreading actually helps market your business or cause.