Viral View - From Branded Content to 'Reality Marketing'

LONDON - Online video consultant GoViral looks at the value of viral videos which spark debate as to whether they are real or not.

Viral View...'reality marketing'
Viral View...'reality marketing'

It is becoming more and more apparent that internet users do not engage with conventional online ads. Following the same trend as the traditional media, the online advertising clutter has become endemic.

The predictable result is a lack of engagement from users and many unsuccessful brand videos posted to Youtube.

This means that it is more crucial than ever for advertisers to present their message in an appealing and original fashion to grab and hold the attention of the consumer.

The big challenge for advertisers is to stand out of the clutter and make their voice heard.

Marketers are looking for new ways to advertise to customers, one of which is the authenticity approach. Many brands are therefore making a shift towards ‘reality marketing’.

Reality marketing means creating a viral video, or some other marketing piece, that looks like a real and genuine story but has actually been carefully staged.

The thought behind this technique is that this type of advertising creates a sense of mystery and ambiguity, which should ideally result in a lot of discussion about the content and the brand behind it.

It is often the ambiguity about whether or not the video is real that gives these campaigns, their initial attention and user debate.

It causes people to share the content with their friends to ask for their opinion, thus increasing the viral spread.

It is crucial to remember that it is necessary for a brand to become part of this discussion as well. Having a successful ‘reality’ campaign is great, but if the content cannot be linked to your brand, it will be money down the drain.

On the other hand, it is equally important not to exaggerate your brand’s visual presence in the campaign.

This is likely to annoy users and prevents the content from coming across as authentic and genuine. Balancing these factors has not proven as easy as it seems for many brands.

In sum, the content should be ambiguous enough to stimulate discussion, but at the same time it should not seriously violate the trust between the consumer and marketer.

Once revealed, people should feel attracted to the brand behind and salute their creativity. One tactic for advertisers is to give some clues to users that engage with the campaign, to help them identify the brand behind it.

Online users like a good old-fashioned treasure hunt, where your brand marks the X on the map.

In order to make the concept a bit more vivid, let’s elaborate on some ‘reality’ campaigns that have lately been dominating the viral advertising charts.

Sony - Twilight Football

With this viral video, Sony is promoting its plans to stage a world first event called Twilight Football. Sony Twilight Football is a global event which took place on 22nd September 2009.

On that day, seven twilight matches were taking place at stunning, specially chosen locations all over the world.

Teams of any level from all over the world can compete to take part in the games. Aspiring players could demonstrate their skills using social media channels like Twitter and YouTube.

The video directs viewers to a website with more background information about the event. The product behind the campaign is Sony’s brand new Exmor CMOS R sensor technology for optimal photo shooting in lowlight.
The video consists of four guys playing football with a bull and a fourth person that appears to be holding the camera.

The key to the success of this campaign is the relevance of the content.

The video gives contestants inspiration and ideas on how they can show off their football skills in a cool video and become a part of this event.

Football fanatics are always eager to view videos on tricks and amazing football stunts.

The content is also relevant for the Sony brand as well as the new Exmor CMOS R sensor technology. The twilight football matches are a great example of the usefulness of this innovative technology.

The campaign has generated 2 million views in less than one month.

Microsoft – Giant Waterslide

Bruno Kammerl built the biggest waterslide on earth and the successful test run video was posted on YouTube.

At least, that is what the viewer of this video is supposed to believe.

This amazing pool dive stunt viral was from the beginning subject of intense discussion online.

Users were fiercely debating the question of whether or not this video was staged and who the maker was.

Microsoft had very carefully built a wall of secrecy and mystery around this video. It erected a bogus German engineering company called Projekt Bureau Kammerl   that supposedly built the giant slide. The story was that Bruno Kammerl posted this video because he was looking for investors to expand the Megawoosh project.

After a while Microsoft revealed that it was the advertiser behind this campaign. The power of this campaign has been the great story-building, which has sparked a lot of debate and speculation. Various speculations occurred on Twitter about whether the video was fake or real, and of who was behind.

Microsoft carefully waited for the momentum and discussion to build up, before revealing its identity as the maker of the video. This turned out to be a clever move, as this sparked a second round of discussions of the video.

The viral continues to be one of the most popular campaigns at the moment and has now received about 3.5 million views and more than 5,000 ratings on YouTube alone.

MSI Laptop Acrobats

Whereas the Megawoosh initially did not reveal what brand it was promoting, Taiwanese computer manufacturer MSI takes a totally different approach with this campaign. It is immediately clear that this viral is from MSI. Both at the beginning and the end there are visual cues that refer to the MSI notebook.

This campaign relies on the video content to stimulate discussion and generate viewer comments. It features a group of acrobats, of which one has the unusual ability to catch a laptop with his buttocks. This is meant to highlight how lightweight the new MSI X-Slim series laptops are.

Although not all comments are positive and most users comment that it is a fake video, the overall rating of the video is good. Possibly users are more aware of this being fake because of earlier similar campaigns like Ray Ban’s Nothing to hide campaign

The relatively unknown MSI probably chose to integrate several visual product cues into the video to strengthen brand value of each view, knowing this simplifies the brand identification process, while making users slightly less eager to discuss and share the video.

Nevertheless, the video has resulted in more than 2 million views and 3,000 user comments.

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