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.


Greg Matthews said...

I'm not a marketer, and kind of a social media newbie . . . and I hear people talking about this as if there is a button you can push to make 100,000 people watch a video overnight.
And yet there seem to be ways to engineer that kind of magic. What I can't figure out is . . . are there any LEGITIMATE and AUTHENTIC ways to engineer that magic, or does it tend to stray into astroturfing? I'd really like to know.

jason Gingold said...

i'm not a marketer by trade. i actually have an MFA in acting. and this is actually kind of similar to a great performance. you can't simply "have" a feeling. you focus on the authentic actions that your character goes through and the reaction follows when you DO THE THING.

my feeling is that you can do all the right things leading up to sending the content to the masses. hire creative thinkers. follow movements and trends. develop original takes on universal themes. place the work in front of your most responsive audience. so yes, i think you can set yourself up for greater probability of success.

however, you have to then trust, hope, and give it over to the netfolk. viral phenomena are organic by nature. and that's my point.

jason Gingold said...

oh, and thanks for posting. good to have a little chatter here.

Bostonita said...

I hear ya. I get requests for viral videos from every other company I speak to. I tell them if we get a hot chic + cute puppies + a big explosion...and maybe someone getting hurt in an Americas-Funniest-Videos kind of way (but not too hurt) = presto! We got a viral video. But what will all that say about the brand, and will it sell their product? Not usually.

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