Fletcher Martin VP PR & Social Media Strategy and author of SpeakMediaBlog Jennifer Jones has written a contributing article on the topic of viral marketing in which she takes a look at four viral marketing campaigns and tells us what's right and what's wrong with them.
These days one cannot go two clicks without reading about viral marketing. Some say it's the greatest notion since the four P's (product, pricing, promotion and placement). Others say it's an over-hyped waste of time that will burn itself out.
The bottom line is viral marketing can only be as good or bad as the campaign around it. Many would-be viral marketers seem to think calling something viral automatically makes it so. They fail to understand that viral marketing requires strategic planning at the start and ongoing promotion throughout the campaign. With this in mind, I have compiled a short list of what I feel are some of the best and worst viral marketing campaigns so far this year.
Viral Video With a Soft Touch: Stride Chewing Gum's Dancing Video
One of the greatest challenges with viral videos is deciding when and how to incorporate the brand. If the brand name is too present, your overt marketing will upset the viewer. If you don't include it enough, you risk being called out for deceptive practices.
Last week, we were sent a funny ad from AMV BBDO in which Mr. T guns down a speedwalker because it's just too goofy for Mr. T's style and, seemingly, for Snickers. Bob Garfield just reviewed it, gave it zero stars and called the thing...huh...homophobic? What a minute. What the fuck? Homophobic?? I'll be the first one to crap on an ad that is overtly homophobic but, seriously, WTF?? This is the furthest thing from homophobic. Homophobia NEVER crossed my mind when I reviewed this.
Idle insanity mashes up with everyday banality, colorful media and schizophrenic graphics in Stunningly Harmful Artlikes, six audio-visual vignettes that may in fact cause you harm.
The series brings Being John Malkovich to mind: media artist Jason Nelson is pretty much letting us glimpse a mundane world through his compulsively musical mind. Along the way you'll see or hear appropriated snatches of songs, games and imagery seen elsewhere but out-of-context.
I went to Toronto last weekend and attended a dinner party hosted by Shannon Stephaniuk of Glossy Inc. If you're a blogger, a production company or one of her agency clients, you probably know her well. She's the PR person who actually presents advertising in a format journalists like (and cover lavishly):
LINK TO (DOWNLOADABLE) CREATIVE!
LINK TO CREDITS!
To other PR people: Why is this formula so hard to grasp? Just today I got a fucking one-page essay from Peroni's PR folk, pitching me on its new "Calendario" campaign, and then NOTHING. What, I have to email back to see the creative? Oh wait, there's a tiny link to the site right at the bottom near the fine(-as-hell!) print. Once I give my birthdate and location, I can hunt "Calendario" down myself -- if Peroni was smart enough to post it there at all. (What ho, it wasn't.)
But I digress.
The dinner party took place Friday night at Nyoob and featured a handful of Toronto-based media and ad people. The guestlist is posted here and so are the photos, if you want to see what havoc ensued.
Quotable highlights from the party are below.
Right up there with Chevrolet and apple pie, Budweiser has always been quintessentially American. While it's unlikely too much will change, the brewer on Sunday accepted a $52 billion bid from Belgian brewer InBev SA. Upon approval, the deal makes InBev the world's largest brewer and the fourth largest CPG company in the world.
Having watched an orange puppet space-jump through hipster internet companies via magic Rolodex, I figured my quota for toys-appropriated-by-inane-advertising had been hit for the night.
Then I saw "Crochette Doll vs. Little Rubber Thumb," which continues a really random milk campaign that I thought was mildly hilarious until tonight. (It might just be my current state of repressed rage. I bet when I wake up tomorrow I'll watch this crochette doll/rubber thumb crap and exclaim, "a rip-rollicking riot! TWO THUMBS UP! HAR!" But I doubt it.)
Put together by Bent Image Labs for Tribal DDB, Canada.
America isn't the only place where brands use blogs and bloggers for their marketing needs. Recently, in Brazil, Coke introduced a new drink, i9, and partnered with nine prominent Brazilian bloggers to promote the drink. As part of the promotion, coke redesigned the bloggers' pages and gave each of them miniature refrigerators with a bottle of i9 inside.
As predictable as a fake ad getting submitted to Cannes (and winning), negative reaction to the promotion ensued with other bloggers crying foul and the creation of an "I am not a rent a blogger" manifesto, similar to the "ad free" manifesto that circulated American blogs a few years back. The gist of the negative reaction was that providing free product to bloggers would taint their objectivity and, perhaps, cause them to write an overly glowing product review.
You know that military recruitment poster with Uncle Sam pointing outward accompanied by the tagline, "I Want You?" Well, a slight modification to that might put and end to the fuckery the ad industry can't seem to remove itself from of when it comes to diversity. Perhaps an image of Don King or Al Sharpton above the tagline, "We Want Your Black Ass!"
It's getting seriously tiresome to discuss diversity in advertising over and over and over again ad nauseam without the industry making even one tiny step toward a solution. All that's occurred is endless meeting after meeting after meeting at which all parties, for the most part, pay lip service to the issue.
Earlier today, Gay List Daily sent its (mostly male) subscribers an invitation to try John Allan beauty products. The pitch began like so:
Meet John Allan. He's been quietly hiding in New York developing a line of men's care. His set of products satisfies a man's every grooming need, from hair care, personal care, shaving, and skin beautifiers.
Okay. I realize I'm on a gay mailing list, but mens' increasing willingness to explore beauty regimens -- and shop for style's sake (think Beckham!) -- isn't a gay vs. straight thing anymore. For a growing number of guys, the pursuit of youth, beauty and expensive jeans has become a norm. And not just among metrosexuals. (In fact, most men we'd call "metro" don't even like the term.)
How much do we know about mens' changing self-perception -- and their shopping habits? Probably too little. Marketers and book writers like shining the spotlight on the so-called gender minority with her iron hand on the family pocketbook. She's always stealing the show!
Meanwhile, we've let Axe run off with the New Male Order.
Looking to change that? Then you should read Branded Male.
Writing on Tasty Blog Snack, Justin Ezarik comments on Michael Arrington's gloating over convincing half of his Twitter followers to follow him on FriendFeed. Justine also expresses a a long-held belief we've had around here at Adrants that most of this social media, web 2.0 crap is fleeting and mostly invisible to anyone outside the geek club.
Seriously. No one outside the insular geekfest gives a shit or ever will give a shit about Twitter or FriendFeed or which is better than the other. Or why they absolutely MUST use them. Apparently, the geek squad are an incestuous bunch and simply CAN NOT live without their shiny new toys. And that's OK. That's they we are. But they are a minority and always will be.