Wednesday, 24 June 2015

spreading a viral

People in adland have standards, they’re not our own, obviously, they’re enforced upon us by various bodies of subjective censorship and puerile arbiters of “good taste and public decency.”

No swearing, no fart jokes, no bad taste and definitely no random bare bum extravaganzas. A general sense of decency pervades, then.

Or has done until we discovered viral. A place where the only rules are no rules and the only requirement is to have your communication passed around cyberspace until the world has been regaled by your genius. This is achieved by being funny, offensive, innovative or violent, although of course a mix of all of the above would work perfectly.

Of course like most things, what is or isn’t worth sending on to your ever-suffering list of email contacts is purely subjective. Offensive, for instance these PC driven days, can be anything from a cartoon featuring someone’s God to a joke about a minority group or satirical commentary on a political leader or two.
Or it can be an add-on to a successful campaign that’s a tad too risky to try for conventional TV spots, like the Marmite “Breastfeeding” viral, where the mother eats Marmite on toast then her breast-feeding baby vomits up her mother’s tainted milk in a scene that makes The Exorcist look like a light gip. Swallow it down at:

Offensive really is in the eye of the beholder, the LG “Secret KF750” spot is something else. It’s either the ultimate, and rather creepy, stalker film, or it’s a natural extension of a little light voyeurism. Confused I mentioned it down the Brazen Head where my views were swept aside as dangerously heretical and total New Man crap.
My art director, seldom impressed by the sensitive, sharey/carey guy, sighed into her Jameson’s, bemoaning the lack of real men, well, real men who will do as they’re damned well told, of course, and ordered a plate of nachos to go. Have a sneaky peek at:

One of the more transparent tricks that advertisers float across your inbox is the “filming your idea so it looks rough as if a real event of rebellion has been shot usually on a cell-phone.” A bit of grainy footage, a scratchy soundtrack and a tiny logo and you’ve got it. Sadly most of them are so heavy-handed that no one is fooled and they end up in cyber trash cans. The Sprite ad just about makes it, your finger might just be hovering over the forward key. Click on it and see:

Disaster and violence play well to the masses and the x-travel ad is backed with enough of both to make your inbox sigh with bloated pleasure. Take a trip to:, unless you’ve just booked your holiday.

A bit of good swearing travels well across email world. The Observer spot is really rather charming, it uses the copious linguistic talents of Alan Ford, of Snatch fame, and it’s well worth blowing someone’s inbox with. The suppressed violence is very funny but the swearing is what carries the day. Catch it at:
You won’t have a bad word to say about it.

The Durex “Famous bad guys in history” campaign is nice. Well, it’s an ok,if over populated idea. (The old, if they’d used condoms these guys would never have existed idea). But it would have been more fun to use more obscure baddies, stuck with Bin Laden, Hitler and old GW Bush where do they go next? It’ll be interesting to see if they’re demonising Obama in four years time. See them in all their evilness at:

Humour works especially well in viral-land. But, unlike the worldwide web thingy, not all humour works in all places. The Thai mobile phone ad is based on the old concept of “what would we do without them,” and uses carrier pigeons to show how the world without mobile would work. It’s a story full interesting insights into Thai humour, including a curious moment when the pigeon has a heart attack and the guys declare “hey it’s got as vibrating function just like real phones.” You kinda have to see it to get the full story:

Some ideas are thrown onto the internet in a hope to enlarge their poor show on TV and cinema, others because the client or agency are convinced their ad is too brilliant to keep to themselves. Most of them are sadly mistaken. The Captain Morgan spot is ok. It’s a bit old fashioned and doesn’t have the immediacy of the best work created solely for the viral medium, but it’s worth a look just for a bit of a laugh. Pour yourself a shot at:

One of the funniest and most widely viewed viral ads of recent times was the Pot Noodle “Gollum” ad. It’s perfect in its bed-sit squalor and throaty, post-binge-drinking voice, but was also brilliantly timed for release after the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’ll have you banging your head on your keyboard muttering “I wish I’d done that.” Catch this precious moment at:

Finally there’s the Coke Zero viral, ”The gnome and the Boob,” a film that will make any mouse twitch with delight. I’ve watched it twenty or thirty times and I can honestly say I have no idea what it’s about. It’s marvellous in its insanity and basically tells the story of, well, a vertically challenged chap and a large breast. It’s brilliant. Or crap. I just can’t decide. Stare in wonder at:
The guys who spend all their time crafting these viral ads constantly tell us that they are the death of traditional advertising. That TV ads are dead, Radio obsolete, and Radio and Press work, history. The best thing about this modern version of junk mail isn’t that it makes traditional media a thing of the past; it’s that anyone who finds them unfunny, offensive, non-innovative or too violent can simply hit the delete button.
That’s one up to date idea that will keep a lot of people clicking.

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