As an industry, we’re pretty good at creating ads that ooze self-deprecation and lodge tongues in cheeks.
In fact, we’re masters of it. What we’re not so good at is being able to turn that self-deprecation on to ourselves.
However, every once in a while, it’s rather enjoyable to put a mirror up to our faces and laugh heartily at what we see. And this is precisely why I loved the "buyral" film, from the people behind "catvertising".
Like all great ideas, it’s based on a solid truth, exposing and gently deriding the modern mania with "viral". The fact that this is the product of an advertising agency makes it even funnier: the metaphorical equivalent of slipping up on one’s own banana skin.
While humorous and eminently watchable, there’s also a level of intelligence here that shows it understands how detached many are becoming from the real value that can be derived from a powerful piece of creative that generates a genuine following.
It parodies what we have become and subtly makes the point that brands need to have sensible conversations about their role online. Why are we here? What are we trying to say? And do people really want to engage with a luncheon meat on Facebook?
For all of our hopping on bandwagons, it’s worth checking whether the bandwagon is actually heading where we want to go.
Of course, natural virals are a triumph and there’s a perfectly good reason why we work so hard to create them. The fact that a strong creative idea can make it in front of thousands of eyes in just a matter of hours without a huge media spend is a revolution in advertising.
But it’s only when we allow people to connect with great content in a natural, human way that it creates a genuine response.
The idea of tying in buttons all around the world, from pedestrian crossings to lifts, to harness surreptitious clicks is genius, and the fact that "buyral" has gone semi-viral itself provides an irony that is just too brilliant to ignore. I wish I’d made it.
Ryan Newey, founding partner and creative director, Fold7