Blog Posts, Branding, Videos

Viral Marketing and Astroturfing

Creating free marketing buzz is every advertisers dream. So the marketing techniques that use social networks to produce increases in brand awareness through a viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses, by creating a cultural information transfer, is a really cost effective way to create brand awareness.  After looking at two examples of viral marketing video clips, I decided that I really want to like them but have some reservations.

The first Video for TNT’s add drama campaign was relatively simple.  They put an "add drama" button in a small town square somewhere in Belgium. When someone hits it, all hell breaks loose. I’m actually glad it was staged, onlookers included, and it does make for a very funny sequence of events. However I think if there were play gunfire anywhere here in the U.S., the results would have been disastrous. With everyone from security guards to nice old ladies packing heat, people would have been hitting the deck hoping to live to see themselves on the 11 O'clock news.

Then there is the Uncle Drew spot for Pepsi. It’s really fun to watch a supposed old guy suddenly called in to play basketball against young guys. How can you have a bunch of onlookers not guessing that something is up with lots of cameras around? This is really “Astroturfing” (I love the term) a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass. The viral spot is deigned to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement, disguising the commercial production effort as an independent public reaction.

After all, isn’t entertainment all we really want from the brands that are advertising to us? The messaging is consistent with the marketer, so who cares if it is a bit less than genuine? The end result is that it even got me being an idea replicator, so I suppose you can call me a viral host.