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Monday, September 28, 2009

Viral, not viral? The hell’s going on around here!

I’ve talked about it in the past and a few recent examples popped up to echo some of the other dynamics of viral I meantioned in my Pitch Slap post. Rereading it, I can see where it may have come off like total hatred but it really wasn’t intended that way.

At first I thought Toby Jones’ clip above was an actual ad, but it’s from a comedy troupe in Chicago called Big Dog Eat Child. (There’s another issue at work in terms of blatant stereotypes, but that’s for an upcoming podcast I have planned.)

For now, all that matters here are the views. Well over two million on that clip; a ton more on others people have reposted. Anyone would agree that this constitutes viral, no matter if it’s real or fake.

But then Matt Damon comes out with his obviously trying too hard to be real fake clip, and yet it’s climbing up the view chart just as fast as his previously “intentional” effort with Sarah Silverman.

Chalk it up to people trying to figure out if it’s real. Either way, it works because people are watching—the only thing that matters with viral. By now it’s clear it can be defined any number of ways:

– A great commercial.

– A real, unguarded moment caught on tape (Christian Bale or missing a flight).

– A well-meaning but unintentionally funny training video (Windows & Launch Party).

– Cute babies and puppies. (Which, should just have their own category because that stuff never misses.)

– Something staged, like an cool stunt, prank or act (Ray-Ban, Triumph Boats or iBand).

Whatever it is, the key is that it better grab your attention in some way, be it funny as hell, painful to watch, or making sure it comes off real, even if it’s staged.

(Another dynamic at work, tangential as it may be, is the disappointment I have when a spot like Jones’ turns out to be fake. What can I say, I like my “bad local” to be real.)

Regardless, it’s a fine line that many agency-produced efforts walk and end up crossing, mostly due to the level of the talent used because actors make all the difference. It’s really hard using the office staff as talent.

(If you’re going to do a down and dirty “local” spot, comedy teams like Rhett & Link show how it’s done.)

Granted, brands can’t live on a steady diet of low-budget viral forever. It’s just amazing how many blow it though when they do try, especially given the examples already out there showing how it’s done.

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