18 September 2013


Welcome back- good to meet you here again.

Oh, to beg a nickel for every client meeting nowadays let by someone who says:

"We're going to create a viral video."

There is a technical 'marketing' name for these people.  They are idiots.

Don't get me wrong:  creating a viral video is possible.  So is writing a bestselling book, a Grammy-winning teen anthem, and a runaway-hit Broadway play, and an Oscar-winning uber-hit.

So let's look at a marvelous example of that winning-lottery-ticket breed:  a video that's fast-earning the adjective 'viral'-

I love this video, and the entire campaign.  It's made by smart, intuitive people, who completely understand the reinvented self-parodying Bill Shatner.  They intuitively understand that if turkey is funny, a turkey deep-fryer is even funnier.  A 'dingle-dangle' is pure, well, gravy.

Most of all, I love how un-corporate it makes an ad for a massive insurance company.

Viral ads are the new platinum in the shift from 'push' (where advertisers would shove their ad in front of you- on TV or Radio, in print, or, say, with Banners on the Web) and 'pull'- where an attractive ad or idea is released into the zeitgeist, and attracts an audience.

This is not a process story, but rather a quick glimpse at how this viral ad did *not* come about.  At no time did State Farm's creative team use this handy checklist:

To reduce viral success to a paint-by-numbers formula is, alas, a left-brain wet dream.  As simultaneously seductive and elusive as mermaids, perpetual motion, and cold fusion.

Which doesn't stop clients, bless 'em, from making the hopelessly naive request:  "Can you make me a viral video"; to which Marketing creatives can respond with one of two answers:
A)  Of course!  Or-
B)  We'll try our best
The first is a big fat lie, the second screams 'fire me and meet with someone who will answer 'A'.

Creating a viral-video to order is but the latest chapter in a century long struggle to glean a formula from creative success and apply it to other campaigns.  But as self-serving as it sounds, Ad Creative is art, and art doesn't work that way.  Aspire to create a new 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and all you'll wind up with 'Friday the 13th, Part VII'.

Good to meet you here again.  Did I mention that?

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