Posts Tagged ‘viral marketing

11
May
09

Engagement vs Advertising: the key decision in your viral marketing campaign

When planning a viral campaign, you’ve got to decide on a balance between your messaging being focused on what I see as ‘Advertising’ vs ‘Engaging’. Advertising vs Engagement are not necessarily mutually exclusive measures – they fit more on a sliding scale:

1 – the pure Advertising approach jams a marketing message down consumer throats. Marketers usually feel inclined to use this sort of messaging to ensure whatever attention their (hopefully) viral campaigns get leads directly to consumption of the marketing message they are communicating. The Advertising approach means that your brand message is clear, but it may limit the reach of your viral campaign, because let’s face it, ads have never been among any of the big time viral videos. People don’t usually spread content that is obviously advertising.

2 – the Engagement approach is different in that it focuses first and foremost on the content, making sure that whatever content is featured in your (hopefully) viral campaign is clever / inspiring / controversial enough to ensure a large number of people will pass it on to others. It is about engaging some sort of emotional response from a significant enough proportion of the public to reach that viral tipping point so that you start to get hundreds of thousands of views rather than thousands. However, the greater the viral ‘infectiousness’ (i just made that word up!) of your campaign, the lower the opportunity for brand messaging and the greater the potential for confusion.

To illustrate, let’s take 2 similar viral campaigns, both based on a similar idea of creating short films to attract people to consume campaign assets. The first campaign is the recent http://Chromeshorts.com efforts by Google, and the second being one of my alltime favourite online campaigns, Zune Arts (about 2 years old now, still going strong). The difference between the Advertising vs Engagement approach is well illustrated by these two campaigns – Google seem to have gone the ‘Advertising’ route, whilst Zune have gone the ‘Engagement’ route. Looking at some of the Google videos, the ‘short films’ are not really short film, rather they are just a nifty little ad (see example below). This is fine, but I can’t see myself passing this around to friends (except of course to discuss here why the content is not necessarily suited to a viral campaign). The content’s just not interesting enough.

The Zune Arts campaign, however, had me browsing the site for 45 minutes the first time I visited –  the content is so rich and immediately engages the audience (see the second video below for example). I’ve also been back for multiple visits, and have shown a number of other people. However, I left the site none the wiser about Zune’s product features / value proposition (I wasn’t even shown a product shot in any of the short movies). The content was cute and I liked the Zune brand all the more for providing it, but I still own an iPod…

One of the Google Chrome ‘Chrome Shorts’ vids

One of the Zune-Arts.net vids

I’m interested to hear if anyone has examples of viral campaigns that they feel have struck a really strong combination of Advertising vs. Engagement. I invite you to leave your comments below…

20
Jan
09

There’s a right way and a wrong way to go ‘viral’… here’s the wrong way

LANGUAGE WARNING: If you’re offended by a word that has four letters and is often used as a shortened version of ‘Richard’, don’t read on 🙂

Anyway, I have a new viral video mantra for y’all that I think should be an industry standard –”Don’t be a dick”. It isn’t hard (pun sort of intended). Treating your audience with respect is probably the most important thing you can do as a marketer. So many campaigns end up with companies / agencies being dicks to their customers. Conversation and substance are the name of the game in this new marketing world that we live in, yet  cheap tricks pulled in order to ‘go viral’ continue to pop up and (A) sully the name of marketers everywhere and (B) make Internet users more cynical by the day.

I’m sure everyone has seen by now the numerous articles about the fake tattoo video submitted for the Island Reef Dream Job campaign  (one of the original stories here, one of the revelations it was a fake is here). Sure, it’s given the Island Reef campaign a massive boost in publicity all over the world. But it’s also left a sour taste in the  mouth of many who were paying attention. When you’re trying to lure people back to Australia for tourism, but your campaign is revealed to be at least in part smoke and mirrors, it reduces how effectively your message comes across. There is no question about this.

Now, again today we have the ‘real life Cinderella’ story that SMH ran yesterday which has also been proven to be a fake. It’s actually a ‘viral’ campaign for a fashion retailer that I haven’t been able to find the name of yet (and major publications seem to be putting a blanket ban on even mentioning the name – here’s another tip, making a monkey out of report/s with fake press releases will piss off the media). Anyway, back to the Conderella story…the video is below if you’re interested.

Viral tripe

Faking video can be good creative. The Marc Ecko ‘Still Free‘ campaign involving footage of Air Force One getting tagged up was a pretty good example of this, where they did something so ridiculously crazy that you could only be left asking “Damn, did they really do that?” (I never actually saw confirmation either way if the video was real or not). The video engaged with social issues that Marc, his target audience and his brand hold near and dear, and sparked controversy and speculation, which it was designed to do so. It was not designed to deceive people, but to spark a dialogue and point people to a microsite. It was transparent in trying to do this.

Mark Ecko – Still Free

The line is to be drawn when you deliberately try to deceive your audience, with no real intention to cause dialogue, but simply to deceive in order to create traffic. This is no different to spamming. In fact, it is probably getting closer to phishing than spamming, as it is deliberately misleading and getting viewers to engage with video / messages they wouldn’t otherwise if they knew it was not genuine. Sneakiness in this regard always come back to bite you on the butt and can actually be quite annoying to the people who see your campaign… monitoring twitter, I found quite a few negative comments about the campaign. So if you’re going to ‘make a viral video’ as part of your next campaign (hmmm), do marketers the world over a favour, and don’t be a dick… respect your audience.

EDIT – 21/01/09: Today, the second video was released, featuring smug actress acting like no wrongdoing has occurred. There’s a much better account of this whole shebang in some of the posts over at Mumbrella… all I can say is it sucks that this campaign is proceeding and that I will never buy anything from Witchery man, or hire Naked as a strategy firm (if you want to know more about Naked, they have a blog here). Crap job all around.

UPDATE 5th Feb 2009 – Mumbrella, always on top of these things, discusses how the overall effect of the campaign makes it a failure at http://mumbrella.com.au/2009/02/05/exclusive-despite-nakeds-survey-their-witchery-campaign-was-a-social-media-failure/#comment-685

18
Sep
08

Microsoft’s new ad campaign: case study in starting online controversy Pt.2

DISCLAIMER: I’m still contracting at Microsoft, so take what I say with a grain of salt 🙂 I’m still also a fan of Windows.

So Seinfeld got dropped from the ads. No surprise really. With an ad campaign basically saying “Yeh, so we’re out of touch” which really did nothing except celebrating being out of touch, the writing was on the wall. Jerry was an interesting choice for a number of reasons, not the least because he was featured in an Apple ad back in the day, but really, he had to go.

However, his departure does not necessarily make this campaign a failure. It is still generating so much conversation and controversy, which still appears to be a good thing – all eyes are firmly focused on Microsoft at the moment. Are they f–kin up, or are they doing something completely crazy and new? Whether dropping Jerry was a planned planned tactic or not, Microsoft is:

  1. Once again the centre of attention right now
  2. Showing that it is adaptive. Some people think the ads sucked. What better way to tell your customers you are listening than to change the campaign to suit?

I still reserve judgment about whether this is a good campaign or not because as I have mentioned I don’t know where the campaign’s going. But every time any little details about the campaign come out, it’s hitting TechCrunch, Engadget and most of the other popular news sites, aswell as a good number of the Apple blogs and fansites (eg/ TUAW), so leveraging that momentum and attention is going to be critical.

Image from Engadget

Rumours reported on Engadget suggest there may be a more direct reaction by Microsoft to Apple’s aggressive “I’m a Mac” campaigns in the future releases. This is actually what I have wanted to see from the start. There is alot of (borderline) misinformation in the Mac ads (less than technical people have told me Macs can’t get viruses and can’t crash, so from that perspective, the ads seem to be working somewhat). 

This is a perfect battleground for Microsoft to take back some of what was theirs. They really need to address the damage the “I’m a Mac” ads did. I’m envisioning guys in fluoro Spandex roller blading through Central Park in NY doing crazy extreme stuff like going backwards (sic – I’m being sarcastic there in case that didn’t come across) and giving high fives to each other and generally being trendy dicks. All listening to white headphones (for the vision impaired and slightly slow, iPod has white headphones) Fade out. Product shot of Zune.  No B.S. – thats Microsoft. Thats what I’d be doing…

EDIT – 19/9/08: Third ad in the campaign, minus Jerry, has been seen at Gizmodo. It’s not bad, really it’s not. Without being too combatitive, it definitely moves towards dispelling the nerdy image Apple branded MS with. Tony Parker is in there. Tony Parker’s the man. And he’s a PC!

EDIT 2 – 19/09/08: Wow, talk about saturation bombing!! The following PC / Windows ads went live on US TV tonight (PST)

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=HrmF-mPLybw

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=7hhVjSbV_oQ

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=wj5UyZKo2iE 

15
Sep
08

Microsoft’s new ad campaign: a case study in how to start online controversy

I’m as close to a Windows fanboy as you can get without having to do something demeaning to win a piece of Windows-branded clothing at a trade show somewhere. There, thats my disclosure. Friends have been asking what I think of the new Gates / Seinfeld ads as much as what they used to ask me what I thought about the old Apple ads – being a PC guy, I thought the Apple ads sucked :). To be honest, I don’t yet know what I think of the new MS ads, because I’ve only seen the first and second one – I don’t know where it’s going, and am not privvy to knowing what will unfold in the coming releases in the series. One thing is for sure, it looks like the guy shooting the footage came straight from the bar. Thats how you achieve edgy camera work for minimal budget – get a wino to do it. 

The extended, 4 minute long version of ad 2.

At any rate, people are talking about it. There are over 3100 Diggs for the blog post on the second ad on Engagdet. I think the key to this discussion is in it’s complete and bewildering obscurity (in this regard it reminds me of Demitri Martin & the Clearification campaign for Vista). I’ve been following various email trails amongst friends and colleagues speculating what people think the ads are really about – the favoured theory is that each of the characters are a metaphor for various people and products in the Apple / PC firefight that Apple kicked off in earnest with their ads… the little girl may or may not be Mac apparently (thats pure speculation so don’t quote me).

Anyway, in wrapping this up, if this is not buzz, then what is? It’s a different story, of course, whether buzz translates to results.

EDIT – 18/09/08: So Jerry’s been dropped from the ads. Hardly surprising.

29
Aug
08

And the Marketing Strategy of the Year for 2008 is…

… making a racy ad, “leaking it” on YouTube & then officially distancing yourself

For the record, I’m not saying that the below companies are actually doing this. For the record too, I’d never do – or recommend doing – something like this… but you have to admit that, although it’s a potentially dubious and high risk strategy, companies have gotten some pretty good viral style attention from having controversial ads ‘leaked’ over the past 6 months. They can then mop up most of the outrage it instigates amongst more conservative members of the viewing public by distancing themselves from the ad… If it can be done by mistake, why can’t it be done on purpose.

Example 1 – JC Penney

Take JC Penney for starters. Saatchi and Saatchi made them a nice little ad featuring 2 fit young things practicing how to get dressed as quickly as possible, with the tagline “Today’s the day you get away with it”.

 

Not entirely too offensive or racy, but JC Penney apparently found it suitably offensive to decide not to use it.

Fast forward a few months and it’s leaked on YouTube after winning an award at Cannes. JC Penney, understandably outraged, piss and moan and eventually have the video removed from Youtube (but in typical fashion there’s a few other copies of it on Youtube plus it’s since popped up a few other places). The interesting thing about all this is the fact that JC Penney never paid for TV time to air the ad and likely never even paid for production of it, but it’s been getting probably close to the number of views a TV campaign might achieve, plus massive amounts of discussion in forums, blogs and other online vehicles. I seriously doubt it’s going to be bad for Saatchi and Saatchi either, since it may slightly damage relations with JC Penney but it is a great case study in creating excitement online. So, as a brand awareness campaign, this has probably been quite successful (hell, as an Aussie blogger, I’d never heard or given a damn about JC Penney before now… and for the sake of a good blog post, lets ignore the potential issues of brand damage and the damage to the S&S / JC Penney relationship for a moment too).

Example 2  – Guinness

The more recent Guinness “Share one with a Friend” ad is another example. Same story, except the ad is perhaps better produced. It tugs on all the appropriate emotional strings (sex, shock, humour, surprise), and features what is essentially 30 seconds of Guinness logo time… I mean really, I’ve never seen an ad that gets people looking at a bottle of Guinness for 30 seconds whilst being totally entertained… This is one of the better crafted ads I’ve seen in a long time, but was apparently too racy for even a beer company.

It would have been (is) the perfect viral video.

However, the ad was deemed unsuitable by Guinness and was never to see the light of day. Enter (again) youtube, and the ad is getting some good numbers (my last count was 235,000 views of the different copies of it in various places on youtube, not to mention offline vehicles and the versions that have been taken down at Diageo’s request). Diageo / Guiness were, just like JC Penney, a bit miffed at having an ad they’d canned leaked on the net,and a similar hoopla kicked off to the JC Penney case. So this meant that, again, without paying for any TV time or even having to build a supporting campaigns to drive traffic to the video, Guinness managed to get it’s brand in front of hundreds of thousands or people for very little money and drove some real brand exposure time for it’s product. Particularly in the case of beer companies (as opposed to the slightly more conservative JC Penney) this is a positive thing for the company. And any potential negative issues are mitigated by the company distancing itself from the ad, even though behind closed doors it may actually fully endorse it. So the conservative fuddy older Guinness drinkers / investors remain placated, whilst the younger generation of Youtube using beer drinkers see a very different vision of Guinness to what they’re used to. And all this was achieved for probably what would amount to money for jam.

Nice, no? It’s a fine line to tread though.




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