Two Viral Videos That Really Break Through

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MARC BROWNSTEIN: Everyone in the industry clamors about the growing need to break through the clutter. But how many ads really do? I’ve come across two viral videos that actually have broken through. What’s more remarkable (and credible) is that the commercials/videos are not sponsored by some underground/emerging marketer -- they are from mainstream marketers like Proctor & Gamble and McDonalds. So, are television commercials (as we know them) dead? If there ever was proof, this is it. Watch this.

This Folgers commercial/thing is fascinating to me. Nielsen’s’ recent announcement that they’re going to track/rate TV commercials is the last nail in the coffin. Marketers won’t be able to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes anymore. There will be concrete proof that TV spots are ridiculously easy to ignore -- not just anecdotal, screw-TiVo bellyaching.

A few months ago, I saw this ad for McDonald’s Australia:

Sure, it’s kinda creepy. But for a lowest-common-denominator marketer like McDonald’s, it’s groundbreaking. And it would never fly in the US. But why not? Is it that Australians (other countries in general) are more open to creativity and/or brand risk-taking? We as a country spend SO MUCH MONEY to produce mostly forgettable TV spots. How many cars-as-gifts commercials, how many I’m Lovin’ Its do we have to see before we become immune to the message? Part of that has to do with pleasing Middle America, not wanting to rock the boat, and just buy the stupid french fries already.

But that’s what’s so exciting to me about the Folgers commercial. Proctor and Gamble, which has always spent a lot of money on marketing and has rewarded innovation, has found a way to reverse the TV-commercial complacency. They actually get people to stop, wait for a download, and watch a whole commercial – on purpose! In the beginning, viral videos were all about creating buzz with little budgets and low production values. That's changing, too: the Folgers commercial appears to have the budget and production values of a regular commercial -- but one-millionth of the media money. Is it possible that an online audience is the audience we always wanted the population-at-large to be? Meaning, are they a smarter, more open to edginess, higher get-it factor group than your average American? And can they be marketed to as such? I love the possibilities this opens up. A lot of companies have tried this model already, but mostly with spoofs (VW), and often (like Burger King) burying or hiding their brand in the marketing product. But this is different: Folgers is the reason for this commercial. They’re being completely transparent. And the sentiment behind the commercial works for their product; it’s not absurdity for absurdity’s sake. And it’s definitely entertaining. How long can it be until viral videos like these gain a wider audience, and replace all the safe stuff we’re subjected to every day on TV?
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