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Posts Tagged ‘Viral’

A Close Shave with Tennis Greatness

August 18, 2010 9 comments

Roger Federer, the world’s most successful tennis player with a staggering sixteen Grand Slams to his name, shows here why he is so great. This ad appeared on YouTube earlier this week from Gillette. It appears to be an unofficial edit from when Mr. Federer et al were breaking between shooting a commercial. The Wall Street Journal recently added to the mountain of editorial written over the past 18 months predicting Federer’s demise – Federer’s reaction was to win three more slams in that time, an achievement which most tennis players spend a career trying and failing to obtain – with coda that attempts an abrupt volte-face, perhaps having already learned from last year to never, ever count Federer out.

Your views on the authenticity of the shots in this ad are welcome. Is it a William Tell-like feat of extravagant excellence caught in a candid moment? Or a nice bit of CGI in a very constructed environment? Federer, according to Reuters, remains coy on the subject. Regardless, Zeitgeist is definitely playing tennis in a suit tonight…

UPDATE: The video has officially gone viral.

Selling ‘Toy Story 3’

Orson Welles once said “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story”. Many pundits thought that a third iteration of the popular ‘Toy Story’ franchise would be a step too far; could a film released eleven years after its predecessor still pull in the crowds? Any such questions were swiftly forgotten about when the film grossed a record-breaking $110+m in its opening weekend in the US, and held it’s number one spot this weekend just passed as well.

Apart from the enduring popularity of the series, as well as studio Pixar’s seemingly unending run of stellar films, the film (which has yet to be released in the UK to avoid clashing with the World Cup) surely owes some of its success to an excellent marketing campaign. As well as simple things like the teaser trailer, which handily features the ‘Toy Story 3’ logo in the middle of the clip (the image YouTube then uses as a thumbnail), and releasing apps for the iPhone et al., there are three examples in particular that Zeitgeist will be focussing on in this article.

The first example was intended to build some viral buzz around the film by releasing various videos on YouTube. These videos were commercials that featured old toys from the ’80s that appear in ‘Toy Story 3′, such as the Lots-o’-Huggin’ bear. The catch is that these commercials are fake, because the product itself exists purely in the film. The video however is so realistic, from the VHS-like video quality to the ’80s music, voiceover and clothing, it blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality, and takes you into the ‘Toy Story’ universe. As Mashable writes, “Thus far, Disney and Pixar have heavily marketed the film across different demographics, but there has a been a strong viral push to grab the attention of people in their mid-to-late twenties. For that reason, creating an ’80s-esque toy commercial makes a lot of sense, because we’re a generation that is obsessed with recollecting our past and relishing what once was.”

SEO has been under the microscope as well, to great effect thanks to Google and Twitter. eConsultancy ran an article on the film’s promoted Twitter presence, saying “the placement is great branding for the Toy Story franchise”. It’s presence was on the Promoted Trends slot, which brands have to “win” to be lucky enough to feature on. The article continues, “media mentions of its Twitter purchase are also working out to its benefit.” For Google’s part, the film jumped on the Search Stories bandwagon, creating a fun video of what results the user (in this case characters from the ‘Toy Story’ films) get when they type in certain words on the search engine.

Lastly and most impressively (because it is such a simple thought), there was the fantastic idea of allowing people to buy tickets to the film through Facebook. This is a first, and a great step. For too long, generic thinking has operated along the lines of “We’ll put together a site, make some great content, make it really engaging, and people will come to visit the site.” This example represents a shift to thinking more along the lines of “Let’s bring this content and functionality to where they already are.” It’s just a simple and superb idea, no doubt the first in a long line of such promotions from all the studios. One marketing head from a rival studio told Zeitgeist they were “all over Facebook now”.

Overall, great thinking and great execution have led to several promotions that not only make the consumer feel closer to the brand, but also, as with the latter example, help lead to direct monetisation.

Floating on an experiential cloud

Great piece of experiential work here by KLM to advertise their new Economy class seating at Manchester airport recently, that of course, like, totally went viral. If anyone can shed light on how this illusion was achieved, Zeitgeist would be curious to know.

Promoting “Lost” farewells

Marketing a series finale of a hit TV show should be relatively easy. However, with “Lost”, just as with its storyline, nothing is ever as it seems, as Zeitgeist has previously reported. In that instance, the marketing team at Disney’s ABC network went to great lengths to introduce some clips, that they hoped would go viral, of the start of the final season, only to have the terribly web-savvy fans -whom it had been assumed were desperate for any crumbs falling from the “Lost” table – reject the clips out of hand, choosing instead to wait until they could see the episode in its entirety, and in HD.

Their ultimate gambit was to simulcast the show’s finale (for which, in the US, they charged advertisers $900k per 30-second spot according to Time magazine, “more than anything save the Oscars and the Super Bowl”) across multiple timezones, meaning it was at a comfortable 9pm PST (unfortunately those viewers still had to avoid any spoilers for the three hours after it was broadcast on the East Coast) and a bright and early 5am for those in the UK (with higher viewing figures than the show usually gets in its 9pm slot). Variety reports, “59 countries will air the final episode of “Lost” no later than 48 hours after the U.S. broadcast.” To Zeitgeist’s mind, this sort of thing has not been attempted before to such an extent. When we think of other broadcasts that are viewed live globally, we think of the Olympics and the World Cup; “Lost” hoped to piggyback on this aura of unity. By closing the viewing windows it also discouraged piracy, though Sky Player suffered unfortunate hitches, as did Zeitgeist’s Sky+ recording, which stuttered its way through the entire finale, leaving Zeitgeist to wonder why he paid a premium for corrupted content that he could have easily downloaded for free (albeit illegally).

However, what such synchronicity meant was that, at the time of its airing, there would have been a lot of buzz (facilitated by ABC’s “Lost” page that allowed users to sign in via the site to Twitter and Facebook to post their comments) about the show online, more or less simultaneously. What would usually have been a community of fragmented chatter that was localised by geographical region, with people talking about the same episode, at different times, suddenly became coherent. The official “Lost” Facebook page certainly did much to help promote the show, with regular status updates (commented on by hundreds, “like”d by tens of thousands), clips, as well as the obligatory Facebook event page for the finale, “attended” again in the tens of thousands. Conversely, a lot of people went into hermit-mode during the run-up to the finale so as to avoid any hint of a spoiler. The New York Times writes “The show’s time-bending storyline and layers of mysteries can mean that a single indiscreet tweet might ruin a whole episode for someone who has yet to see it.”

The simulcast was the last in a series of bold moves those in the marketing department had made for “Lost”. To promote the series premiere, bottles were wedged into the sand on the East and West coasts of the US. The doomed plane’s airline that the passengers fly, Oceanic, had its own, official-looking website (which now redirects to ABC’s “Lost” homepage). Variety continues “The Oceanic Web page idea morphed into a competing site claiming a conspiracy behind the plane crash; Find815.com was nominated for an interactive Emmy. The network posted Oceanic billboards in several international cities connected to series characters, then ‘vandalized’ them with conspiracy claims.” During the finale in the US, SMS messages that viewers had sent in were displayed, presumably during commercial breaks. A UGC competition was also run online to see who could create the best trailer for the show (see video below).

Further to this of course were comic books, podcasts and videogames – not to mention the fan-made wiki Lostpedia – that expanded the mythology of the show’s universe. Moreover, as Mashable points out, “Lost was among the very first series available on iTunes, giving the option to watch on-demand on your computer, iPod or iPhone… At the time of writing, seasons 1-6 are available in HD, all for free (with ads) on the ABC website.” Michael Benson, one of ABC’s executive VPs of marketing said that “viewers want to believe there really are people lost on an island somewhere.” By playing on this insight, Benson and his team have crafted a lattice framework of exciting, original promotions. The proof is in the pudding; six years on, “Lost” bows out as one of the most talked-about shows of the past decade.

Magnum Opus in Digital Activation

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Zeitgeist is fast running out of places to dispose of the bodies of clients and colleagues who blithely ask ‘Can we just do something with Facebook?’, ‘Why don’t we just make an app?’ or ‘Let’s do something viral!’ with no thought for what could actually be done or how it would fit into a larger strategic picture.

So, when we see a clever piece of digital activation supporting a larger campaign, it’s only right and proper that we highlight and celebrate it – particularly when the product it is promoting suggests that summer is on the way.

We recently chanced upon this offering from Magnum announcing the availability of Magnum Gold which places ordinary people in a spoof trailer directed by the celebrated Bryan Singer and co-starring none other than Academy Award winning Benicio del Toro and the lovely Caroline Correa. The trailer, based on the cinema version below, shows the three protagonists breaking into a vault to steal 75 million Magnum Golds because they couldn’t wait a day for them to appear in the shops.

Users simply upload their photograph and the app renders their face onto a third character who appears in the film.

The end product is pretty slick and can be shared on the usual social media sites along with downloadable customised movie posters.

When Zeitgeist added their own versions to their Facebook pages they rapidly attracted several approving comments and resulted in friends making their own versions – and the cycle was repeated. Viral box emphatically checked.

The site, which is supported by multiple languages is all part of a £3million campaign including TV, cinema, outdoor advertising, PR, in-store and on-pack promotions. While to some this might seem an expensive way to raise awareness of your ice cream, high profile brand ambassadors are nothing new to Magnum variants who have been promoted in the past by the likes of Eva Longoria and Eva Mendes and with Unilever claiming NPD saw the brand grow 10% last year it’s not surprise they stuck to a tried and tested formula.

So, for having the guts to make something so original and well executed, Zeitgeist is happy to help spread the word that the delicious Magnum Gold is out now.

BA – Striking the right note for consumers

Having recently revamped their first class cabin with much hoopla and with an always-scintillating Rachel Weisz, British Airways might have felt quite chuffed with themselves. A lot of people, however, were left quite upset in the run up to Easter as they were left holiday-less due to the strikes by BA staff. Part of Zeitgeist was abroad, though “luckily” they were travelling with EasyJet. BA stood to lose some even more ground to it’s low-cost rivals, and when the strike was announced earlier in the year, carrier BMI did not miss a beat in its print ads. National Express also sought to capitalise on the affair. To add salt to the wound, a software developer at BA recently tried to organise a series of suicide bombings to take place during the strike.

It became clear early on though that public sympathy was, for the most part, with British Airways. This could be because the airline have had to endure strikes before, or because the flagbearer is seen as one of the last vestiges of a bygone era of empire and erudite financial control; something to be proud of. BA seized on this and decided to engage in a bit of ex-ante damage control. It should be noted that the company are somewhat digital-savvy, as evidenced by their Metrotwin which began with things to do and see in London and NYC in 2008, and which at the end of last year added Mumbai too. However they have in the past failed to correctly judge the mood of the masses, such as when they replaced the Union Jack on their fleet’s tailfins with ‘world art’.

Brand Republic reported on March 2nd that BA had asked Agency.com “to create a social-media strategy aimed at providing customers with the latest information on services should the industrial action go ahead”. They also launched a paid search campaign on Google and Yahoo! to keep travellers updated. On March 15th they launched a viral campaign featuring a YouTube video of BA’s CEO Willie Walsh, criticising the strike and “reassuring customers that flights will continue”. Separately, Lord Adonis, the transport minister “waded into the row… telling the BBC he ‘absolutely’ deplored the strike”.

On March 19th, BA launched a print campaign “to emphasise its efforts to minimise disruption to customers during the forthcoming strike”. In it, Walsh states the airline will “keep [its] flag flying”. Walsh continued to appear in a series of videos as the strike got underway, reassuring travellers that the atmosphere at Terminal 5 was “very positive” and that “very good numbers” of cabin crew were coming to work, as well as answering media criticism. A survey of 1000 people revealed on March 23rd, “the majority of those who had seen BA’s campaign have either retained or improved their perception of the brand.” On March 31st, the day after the strike ended, BA ran a print ad campaign in most of the nationals thanking “thousands of customers” for their support.

Though not flawless, the exercise was unquestionably a successful one, and stands as an example for future brands in times of crisis: don’t ignore the issue, address the consumer quickly and directly, do everything you can to get through it. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Faciamo qualcosa “Viral” adesso

Zeitgeist is not extremely comfortable with the idea of two football-related posts in a row, however circumstances dictate it must be so. The sport is was riddled with corruption in bella Italia (and elsewhere), but that doesn’t stop the sport from entertaining millions upon millions. Heineken recently hosted a superb activation event, news of which comes courtesy of the great Digital Buzz Blog via a Zeitgeist apparatchik. It’s a cunning and humorous ploy that plays on the odd stereotype or two but is harmless nonetheless, and very enjoyable. Such a tactic would not have been suitable for other brands; Heineken pulls it off nicely.

UPDATE: Another Ogilvy blog has also written about this.

Head and Shoulders above other virals

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

A 21st birthday always calls for a celebration. But how do you celebtrate if you are a product that combines Shampoo and Conditioner?

Well, one thing you could do is hire Hull City midfielder and renowned footballing joker Jimmy Bullard to recreate one of your iconic adverts and stick it on YouTube.

Bullard, who has been plagued by serious injuries in recent seasons has carved a niche for himself as a cheeky chap who doesn’t take himself seriously as evidenced by his performance during the shooting of promo clips for Sky.

While the new clip is unlikely to make it onto mainstream television, it has been spreading like wildfire on football websites ensuring that it gets seen by its target market.

For the nostalgic amongst you, here is the original Wash and Go advert the spoof is based on.

To the uninitiated it may seem a brave decision to go with Bullard, who is not a celebrated international star and has yet to be invited to model underpants or sell fragrances, but if you want to attract football fans, send up your category and have some fun then he is the perfect fit.

Now you’re the New Dork

For aspiring New Dorks everywhere comes this hilarious video about living it up, Web 2.0 style. A great video in its own right, it’s viral potential will be good news for Grasshopper, the company the video is actually promoting. TechCrunch has more.

Riding the Unicorn

March 2, 2010 1 comment

Finding the right partner to help you reach a new audience can be a tricky business. Yet sometimes a perfect union happens by pure chance.

For example, British synthpop duo Erasure probably weren’t expecting their catchy 1994 tune  ‘Always’ to be given a new lease of life by a simple, yet addictive (if Zeitgeist’s colleagues can be used as test cases) game called Robot Unicorn Attack. Yet the game (you have been warned, it is addictive) is proving immensely popular and the song is taking root in the heads of a new generation who weren’t around to hear it 16 years ago and maybe even a few older heads that had forgotten it.

The song will now inevitably creep up the charts as people download it adding unexpected royalties to the groups coffers and generating some welcome interest in the rest of their ouevre.

Proof of the influence the game has had can be found on YouTube where all the videos of the song are now cluttered with strange comments about unicorns and new dedicated videos are being uploaded.

Strange then that brands seem so reluctant to launch such online games and enjoy the associated good feeling.