Golden Voice…Updated

I used to think of myself as the kind of guy who has his ear to the ground, doesn’t miss a trick (at least when social media and digital shizniz happens), but I clearly missed the boat on this one. When I saw the video for the first time it was at just over 4 MILLION views in 2 DAYS. From the time I left work to the time I showed my girlfriend the video had over 5.3 Million views. This morning the number hovers just under 10 million.

3 Days.

10 Million.

That’s just nuts.

Whats more is this video has a touching story attached to it, with an awesome resolution. Makes you smile from the inside kinda thing.

If you want proof of the success story, check the CNN site:here

Happy New Year and all that, promise to get this back on the road soon!


…albeit a very belated one (I’ve been busy, and this is the first thing to get de-prioritised when that happens)

I guess this is more for posterity than anything ground breaking, but there were a few developments that happened after the Golden Voice video went viral…

Columbus Dispatch, the people who recorded the original video, got all butthurt jealous that they hadn’t got a slice of the viral action, and so decided to file a copyright infringement claim to get the original video removed (notice how the above video no longer exists…you can read the official Dispatch statement here)

By the time the video got culled, it had gained 13,828,995 views, over 56,000 comments and over 100,000 ‘likes’. The Genii at the Columbus Dispatch then started their own youtube channel and re-uploaded the video probably thinking ‘Yeh we’re so clever, now that viral stuff is going to happen to us!’

How wrong they were.

The channel and the video BOMBED. Hard. With only 17,000 hits or so and more dislikes than likes, they were bombarded with people flaming them for issuing the copyright infringement claim.

This was followed by people picking up the story and being equally critical on their actions across the blogosphere. In particular the articles at post advertising and prTini are good summaries of how it all went down, so go check them out if you want to read more.

The story, of course, involves more than the cretins stupid people at Columbus Dispatch. The human element remains, and I’m afraid it isn’t the happiest of endings to the happy ending. Turns out Ted is off to rehab after a whirlwind of events that even the least cynical people would have suspected might happen. Read the Jezebel post entitled: 10 Days In The Breakneck Rise & Fall Of “Golden Voice” Ted Williams. I, for one, wish him all the best.

I guess at the end of all this we can say two things:

  • One, The Columbus Dispatch, like a lot of ‘old media’, really haven’t been reading their social media bible, and acted irrationally and instinctively in removing the original video. They turned what could have been GOLDEN PR into what was fundamentally damaging to their brand. They should have stepped back, looked at the bigger picture, heck even consulted a social media agency, but they didn’t. Epic. Fail

  • Two. Sensational video and a touching story don’t hide the ugly truth behind drug addiction. Ted was a recovering addict, but an addict all the same. It’s not Ted’s fault that he relapsed, and given the circumstances it’s really not that surprising that he did. Was he given the protection he needed from his past? Would he have accepted it had be been offered it? who knows.

    At the end of the day it’s a story of new beginnings, but with a heavy dose of reality. At the same time, it’s a PR /social media (case study) dream. This is a perfect example of how bad things can go for you, and how quickly, if you underestimate the medium and method with which a story is being delivered. Social media is social, the paradigm of ‘news’ is shifting. Ignoring this fact and continuing regardless with litigious and old-hat ideology is what sets the dinosaurs from the…er…(what came after dinosaurs)…crocodiles? (that’ll do). It’s effectively social-web suicide.

    The problem, now, is that social web blunders reverberate to the core of a brand’s identity. The Columbus Dispatch shall be known for a long time as the idiots that took down Golden Voice.

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    Youtube, Footlocker and More Viral Campaigns

    Before I start, I understand that it is a little rich labeling any video on youtube as automatically ‘viral’. Linking Youtube and ‘viral’ video culture is more a meta-commentary on the format of youtube and the history of viral videos, which have often been originally hosted on or have ended up at Youtube (remember some of the first viral videos were decidedly ‘gonzo’ in style, which Youtube with its largely amateur videographer user base lends its self perfectly to). Initially ‘Viral’ was a term used to highlight the ‘virus-like’ spread of a video (or other media form), but now there is a clear ‘viral’ element to some videos and campaigns, especially considering that there are marketing and communication companies who are purposely attempting to exploit the phenomenon of viral media. This is no secret, they make no attempt to hide it, and so in this respect a video can have ‘viral’ elements just as a documentary has certain documentary elements. Whether these videos do in fact become ‘viral’ or not is another question all together, and one that is hard to answer considering the various and wildly varying ideas on what constitutes ‘viral’ exposure.

    Now, unless you have been living under a rock for the past 3 months, you will probably know about the Old Spice Guy (hereafter OSG) in some form or another. The basic premise was an interactive ‘conversation’ between the old spice guy and the youtube audience at large. The result? a gargantuan beast of a social media campaign which resulted in around 1.4bn campaign impressions and 40m video views within one week of the original ad going live. Not only that but Old Spice sales are up 27% since the campaign launched, and 107% in the last month alone. Considering the cost of filming a good-looking, ripped & half naked black guy in-front of a green screen can’t be that huge, we’re talking serious ROI for Old Spice, and the potential for huge investment into the digital and social media marketing world – everyone wants to do what Old Spice did.

    Frankly these lofty aspirations are unrealistic. It really is once in a blue moon that seriously good creativity and business acumen meet in the right place, and even if those two are present the market needs to be ready for it. There is a certain ‘decompression’ after a campaign such as that. People simply wont respond in the same way over and over, there needs to be a cooling off period.

    Thats not to say there is no point, just don’t go thinking that you have the next Old Spice tucked up your sleeve, or that the digital agency you just went to has either.

    Onto Footlocker. ‘It’s a sneaker thing’ is the clever hook attached to the current Footlocker campaign which has been rolling out across the internet and TV screens for some time now. A recent development has seen a collaboration between Footlocker and Youtube celebs ShayCarl, KassemG and Bret the Intern; two teams under Kassem and Shay fight it out in a food fight to the death in an otherwise deserted high school cafeteria.

    The Footlocker element is brought in with some clever vary-focal camera shots of a hall full of brand new sneakers and the use of sandwich bags to protect these nice new sneakers from the ensuing mess – all of which are put on AFTER the ‘foodfight’ shout. Check the video’s below:

    And the voting video:

    Shay Carl and Kassem G alone have a combined subscribership of around 1.6m viewers. Unlike the Old Spice advert, however, these viewers are already invested in the institutions of Shay or Kassem (or like me both). There is a whole community built around them already. With Old Spice we saw a new face who could engage the entire Youtube audience without your having to belong to a subculture first. The interactive element, also, is lacking a certain focus which the Old Spice campaign had (and was arguably the thing which stimulated the most on and offline word of mouth). In this we get to vote for the winner, as opposed to being able to actually interact with OSG. For these reasons, this campaign is unlikely to reach the proportions of Old Spice.

    I can’t decide if this is clever marketing or not. The audience is fairly limited, but it still can’t have cost much to do which makes ROI a much easier figure to achieve. As I said, the OSG’s magic was his novelty and fresh faces always make more impact. I’ll be interested to see how this drives sales to Footlocker. It is, however, evidence of companies seriously looking for new ways of promoting their products, which is a good thing for the digital marketing industry. Whether they are all getting it right or not is something we shall have to wait and see.

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