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The Valley of Ambiguity

The Valley of Ambiguity

From Annalee Newitz’s (excellent) theory on viral journalism and the valley of ambiguity. Newitz is the editor-in-chief of io9 and author of Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive A Mass Extinction.

TED videos, often seasoned with cheery platitudes, become viral for the same reason that grumpy cat pictures do. They don’t ask us to think critically — just to enjoy, or be amused and enlightened without the time-consuming labor of skepticism and doubt clouding our clicks. Why do we want to share these stories? Because in some sense they are not open to interpretation. You don’t have to worry whether your friends will wonder why you shared this — it’s obvious.

The same goes for viral journalism on the other side of my chart. These stories, like explainers, how-to guides, Mythbusters-style debunkery, and truth-telling investigative journalism, are in some ways the opposite of a stupid video or a LOLcat. They are about truth, rather than amusement. But in fact, they go viral for exactly the same reason LOLcats do. They are not open to interpretation.

I guess we can all publish more feel-guide self-help guides, or just pretend that our low tweet counts (ahem) are a sign that we have asked our readers to do some critical thinking — and, by extension, we’re brilliant.

Speciality Fire-Resistant Clothing Maker Spends 60% of Its Marketing Budget on Viral Video

A niche company that specializes in fire-resistant clothes for miners and oil-rig workers is spending 60% of this year’s marketing budget on an 8-minute viral video.

From NY Times:

Bulwark FR sells fire-resistant clothing worn by miners, utility workers and oil-rig workers. Pitches for Bulwark FR are typically in the traditional realm of business-to-business advertising like print ads aimed at safety engineers, catalogs and trade shows.

But now, Bulwark FR and its agency, Fitzgerald & Company in Atlanta, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, are adopting many of the trappings of mainstream marketing in an effort to stand out and make an impression.

Bold move. From the behind-the-scenes video, it looks like viewers are in for a treat. But will the video deliver more efficient reach against Bulwark FR’s prospective customers?

(Via Get the Five.)

Viral, Bacterial Billboard Promotes Contagion

The promoters in charge of the Canadian release of Contagion (the movie) designed billboards that reveal the movie’s title over time — as fungus and bacteria grow in various moldy colors. Awesome. From Adverblog.

Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising

Kitchen Roll Twitter Feed

One of the many, many great submissions at Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising, my hands-down favorite site of the week. Thank you, funny people!

Turn Your Next Party into a Birthday Movement

Truth In Advertising? Fun Spot for Alabama-based Cullman Liquidation

I don’t know anything about I Love Local Commericals — a low-budget commercial production outfit? I also don’t know anything about Cullman Liquidation, including whether or not they’re a real company. But if they’re real and I was on the market for a used mobile home, this commercial makes me think they’d be fun to work with.

Breast Cancer Spots Inspired by Beer Commercials?

Such as this spot for the Booby Ball annual cruise to raise breast cancer awareness.

Pizza Hut's Lame Viral Video

I’m with on this one:

“It’s one thing to call out your competition if they are another chain. It’s another to insult small businesses. My advice? Next time, stop trying to make a ‘viral’ with the goal of getting views, and instead, focus on creating content that actually builds your brand — or at least makes it look good.”

6 Tips to Social Media Marketing Lifted from Cannes Grand Prix Advertising Winner

The winner was the Tourism Board of Queensland, Australia. Here’s one of the six things we should learn from their success, according to Rohit Bhargava :

“Create an inherent reason for people to share. Another element of this campaign that worked extremely well was the fact that there was voting enabled on the videos. What this meant was that after someone submitted their video, they had an incentive to share it with everyone in their social network online to try and get more votes.”

Evian Roller Babies: Viral Video or Good TV Commercial?

When I last checked, the above Evian video had been viewed over 5.5 million times on YouTube, so talking about it as the latest viral-video success story. What distinguishes a “viral-video success story” from a good TV commercial that’s available online? In other words, does the fact that most TV commercials don’t go viral just mean that most TV commercials aren’t that good?