Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Recognise Your Own Bubble.

Last April when this rickrolling flashmob took place in London, there were rumours of commercial sponsorship and friends told me there were as many spectators as participants. The words jumping shark came to mind.

So, last week when I read some press coverage about how the ad below had been shot guerilla-style the day before and was to debut on Friday night, my immediate reaction was one of shrugging disenchantment. The usual suspects of plagiarism, bandwagons and unimaginative creatives raised their heads. But maybe that's unfair.

While I don't know if it's a good ad or contrived nonsense, it's reminded me that we all have to be very careful not to assume that our experience/worldview is that of the majority. Most people probably don't know the term flashmob, the YouTube views are not high, and real life does not revolve around online memes. If everybody knew what you knew, then you wouldn't have much to talk about would you?


Blogger MHB said...

I've been wondering about this 'surprise event' meme and where it's headed.

Yup, in the industry we know this falls under the umbrella of 'plagiarism', as these are taking from the group Improv Everywhere. (And the formula has already been executed by agencies, like the London Airport Musical.)

And so w/ the Liverpool Street Station spot, I'm not really thinking about it from a creative perspective (it's just copy+paste) but from a strategic perspective. Even if it is not original, as you said - chances are it may be new to most viewers outside of our bubble. Therefore, it could indeed be a deft move.

So we're reaching a point where this idea - a rabbit hole of WTF?! is on the rise for ad campaign strategists. I see it becoming a new norm, similar to WTF content that agencies aim to make viral since the advent of YouTube.

Knowing that, what can be done this space that makes it new? Or is it doomed to become banal, interruptive as opposed to entertaining?

6:29 PM, January 22, 2009  
Blogger Jane said...

OMG, "a rabbit hole of WTF?!" is one of the most precise, apt terminology I've heard to describe the "we've got your attention NOW!!!" ad campaigns of late.

where does this go? clearly better design for actual participation and less spectacle. it's only good to provoke awe and wonder if you then give people the means to produce it themselves.

9:39 AM, January 23, 2009  
Blogger john dodds said...

@MHB I was going to quote Jane's tweet at you, but she's gone and written it herself in her comment(thanks Jane).

I think the trend towards "marketing happenings" is inevitable, but I side with you in feeling that they are prone to diminishing returns of impact. That's why I agree so much with Jane's suggestion - the corollary of which would be I think to eschew turning them into TV ads at all.

10:01 AM, January 23, 2009  
Blogger john dodds said...

Even though I don't like them, I canot deny that the Cadbury ads do lend themselves to participation.

1:31 PM, January 23, 2009  
Blogger MHB said...

@Jane - I totally agree, millions now live in a lean-forward mode. Even if we don't game heavily, our casual actions are like those of gamers - curious, wanting to poke around and affect the narrative that lies before us. The Game of Life.

So campaigns having a top-down approach that 'show joy' but do not proffer a portal...totally limited returns. And could even backfire if these events become ubiquitous, yet impenetrable.

(and, uh, *blush* that you like my WTF Rabbit Hole phrase, I'm a big fan of your work)

@john dodds - yup I think the broadcasting of the event as a TV spot is rooted in old thinking. 'Look What We Did!', caught up in dated notions of ROI.

What I'd love to know is how much the media buy was for the spot, and then brainstorm as to how else that money could have been spent.

What should they do in lieu of TV? Not yet sure, but methinks all parties are best served by asking ourselves new questions.

1:55 PM, January 23, 2009  

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