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.