Thursday, December 4, 2008

...and while you're at it, create the next facebook, ok?

Another request came in from a client to create "viral videos" for them. Am I the only one in the world wide web of advertising to secretly roll their eyes at this request?

That's not entirely fair. I know what they're after. We all do. In every marketing department's vision, they create quirky web content that gets passed around the net and tallies a million hits before the sun rises the day after. But, for every Prop 8 - The Musical or Kobe jumping the Aston Martin, well-financed, professionally filmed and edited videos, there are 100 undiscovered gems like "One Line on the Sopranos" which explode due to their sheer creativity, audacity, or idiocy.

I guess what I'm getting at is that much as we'd love to accept the notion that with the mere instruction of making a viral video, we can actually create one. What we can do is build some online content. And yes, it could be a video. And yes, we'll probably make it funny. Will it be sliced bread? Probably not. Will people talk about it? Some will. Maybe a lot will. But once again, marketers are fooling themselves into thinking that control is their own when it comes to the internet.

I love viral videos. I have a tendency to laugh out loud (sorry. to lol) from my desk. There's a group of friends I share my favorite discoveries with. And THAT's what viral means. It means that we pass things around to a group who, in turn, pass them on to more people. Much like...wait for it...a virus. But from a marketing/advertising standpoint, they are one option. They certainly aren't the only option, and aren't always the best one when they're picked. At the end of the day, a great idea is a great idea. If people respond to it by sharing it, that's wonderful. But let's be careful what we, as advertisers, put within a scope of work, and let's be careful marketing departments that if we ask for a presence on the web, we understand that we will be playing by the rules of its democracy, that we can't dictate what becomes the vid du jour. If we could, we'd never have been able to predict or explain The Zombie Boy who loves turtles, Benny Lava or the Dramatic Chipmunk.
the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)