School’s out Friday

I’m currently in the throes of trying to pack as much as I possibly can into my ‘Language of our Times’ class in the final weeks of term. We were looking at viral videos recently (and at its essence, what are the qualities of a video that makes it move to viral status) and have returned to this in the last two days, prompted by what I’ve viewed on mainstream television and what has run past my Twitter stream.

The Qantas ad, above, caught my attention while I was making inroads on correction. It led me away from the correction pretty quickly, enticed as I was with the soundtrack and storylines that were unfolding in front of me. A two minute slot in primetime must cost a fair whack, but the 300,000+ views it has racked up on YouTube in 8 days is quite possibly paying dividends for the Qantas brand.

We followed this up today with two Christmas ads coming out of the UK. The first was the John Lewis ad below that has racked up a more than impressive 14 million+ views on YouTube in 8 days. And yes, I’m betting John Lewis sees this as an investment that has paid off.

The second is the Christmas ad from Sainsbury’s, a UK Supermarket chain. It was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion and is inspired by real events from 100 years ago. I dare you to watch it and not tear up.

It was released two days ago and has racked up 4 million+ views to date. I’m figuring this is one with shareability written all over it. Check back in six days and I’m betting it’s running rings over the John Lewis ad.

What these ads have enabled is some great discussion around what makes an effective marketing campaign in a world where YouTube rules and mainstream media is becoming less relevant in the lives of the everyday citizen. A good discussion to have and one that I think my students have benefited from. If I find them all leading marketing campaigns in future years I’ll know I’ve done a good job. 😉

I’ll be grabbing some shut eye this weekend and gearing up for a busy few weeks as the year comes to an end. Rest up folks and enjoy some down time. 🙂

School’s out Friday

OK Go – you remember them. The guys who made that video on the treadmills. You know, the one where you were expecting one of them to fall flat on their face, but remarkably they stayed upright and performed some amazing moves that had us all transfixed.

Well, here they are again, in another feat of visual mastery. According to this Billboard post, the video was filmed in a single take using drones with mounted cameras but it took 50 to 60 run throughs to get it right. Another interesting fact – it was paid for by Honda who supplied the seated Segways the band members are sitting on. Now wouldn’t you love one of those to scoot around in?

Clever, huh? Create a video that has viral appeal, thus reducing your marketing costs, and then get Honda to pay for it. Use that as an example in your next Business Studies class and forget the textbook that probably is laden with examples that hold little relevance in today’s digitally driven world.

And if you’ve never seen their original 2009 video, well here it is. Enjoy it, and the weekend ahead. I’m sure you deserve a break.  🙂


School’s out Friday (and a short lesson in viral marketing)

I’m using this video today because I think it’s funny, and not because I want to become part of Valvoline’s viral marketing strategy to try to get me to click on their links and sign up to their promotional activities and potentially win me over as a customer. Interestingly enough, it’s worked for them, because here I am writing about it and linking to them. It’s not about that,  instead it’s an exercise in the new information fluency understandings that we need to be teaching in our schools today.

In fact, who I’m really helping here is Simon Owens, a a 26-year-old social media consultant and online journalist from Washington DC, whose blog has the nifty (!) title, Bloggasm. He is commissioned by companies to push out their content and get bloggers like me to write about it. He succeeded today, in large part because I liked the video, but also because this is something that’s important to write about. Plenty of bloggers out there get seduced into promoting other people’s products for free, and I’m betting a fair few of them out there don’t even realise they’re doing it. Here’s what Simon does, from his about me/hire me page;

Why your company, political group or media organization should hire me

Let me give you an example of what I can do. Back in May a film company approached me because they were trying to push out a YouTube video that was highlighting what they perceived as unfair labor practices from a well known brand. I wrote up a short post about the campaign and then that night spent about two hours pushing it out to a number of bloggers and social media users that worked within niches that I thought would be receptive to the content. One of the talents I have is using analytic search tools to identify specific micro niches of influential bloggers that are most likely to write about the content I’m pushing.

By the time I woke up the next morning, the post in which I had written about the campaign was getting over 1,000 views an hour. It was linked to by some of the most popular sites on the web (at least one of which receives over a million visitors a day) and several large marketing blogs. Several dozen smaller blogs wrote about it and links to the content were tweeted by several hundred Twitter users. It also gained strong traction in Stumbleupon and the post received nearly 500 hits an hour just from that site alone.

When all was said and done, the story had been placed before thousands of people, many of whom took the time to take that content and push it out to even more people. And all this was done because of two hours of work — I knew the exact bloggers and online journalists to seed the story to, and once they had it it was just a matter of watching the flames spread.

Drop me a line if you’d like to talk strategy for your content or brand.

This is how the Web works now people. Be aware of it. Teach your students this. Make sure that we are producing a nation of aware users of Web content, people who drill that bit deeper, who comprehend why it is that they may be contacted in a friendly, personable email alerting them to something new they may be interested in.

To be honest with you, I admire Simon and the way he has created a career for himself online. Good for him. I wonder, did he learn any of these skills from the school or university he went to, or did he self direct his own learning and explore avenues because of opportunities he saw? My bet is on the latter. To his credit, Simon did mention in his email to me that he does some consulting for the makers of the video. Simon is someone who I’d like to invite to my classroom via Skype to talk to my students about persuasive techniques and the Web. Would fit very nicely into the work we’re doing in the coming weeks.

Use this post as a teaching tool with your students. It’s my gift to you this sunny Friday, last Friday of school holidays, last Friday of freedom from the full on responsibilities of working life!