So, you might not agree with me, but I am sick and tired of hearing about the word ‘Viral’. In a hectic world of advertising, brands continually want quick, simple, cheap solutions, that magically come out of no-where and become massive hits online, yet is this an unrealistic expectation?
In my eyes, yes! Viral campaigns can make consumers truly feel something, whether this is sadness, happiness, love or hate. This emotion leads to them actively viewing YouTube videos, liking Facebook pages and tweeting about brands. Hence the only way to achieve this is through meticulous planning, by providing real consumer insight, perfect timing and realistic budgets.
Before I rant anymore, maybe I should define what viral actually means. Well according to MarketingTerms.com it is a ‘Marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message’.
The ultimate aim of a brand is to circulate its message within influential social groups; hence the right people become instant ambassadors. As a result, brands can send out particular messages to individuals, different networking groups and even their competitors, fast and effectively.
When it comes to content, this is purely defined by the brand’s short & long term aim. It could be something as simple as a photo or article, a revolutionary website, video or above the line campaign. What they all must contain is content that really inspires people to share; online & through face-to-face conversation. This is hard, really hard, especially if you are doing it properly. Some people and brands occasionally get lucky, but for the majority, you have to work at it. If a brand tries too hard, then it simply won’t work! A classic example is Sony’s ‘All I want for Christmas is a PSP’.
‘Old Spice’ advertising on the other hand is one of the most inspirational campaigns to date. By simply understanding their consumers (70% women), P&G were able to take ‘Old Spice’ viral. The final execution might look low budget, but it actually took a large amount of effort and resources to produce it correctly. The same can be said for Evian’s Roller Babies ‘Live Young’ and Volkswagen’s Dark Vadar Super Bowl advert.
So what is my conclusion? Well, brands need to stop asking agencies to produce ‘viral’ campaigns and concentrate on the bigger pitch. Viral campaigns naturally develop, they cannot be moulded. It truly takes time, so in the meantime, concentrate on your customers, their needs, desires and opinions.
Mind control, of electrical objects that is, is not an all powerful technology as of yet. Ask someone on the street and they probably think that floating a ball with a large headset above your help is the extent of it, or that it is total fiction, but it’s not. In fact, two big names in the production world are developing mind control applications, right at this very moment.
Emotiv Systems have just released a number of different applications; a mind controlled photo viewer, a mind controlled synthesizer and of course, the more commercial games like Cortex Arcade and Spirit Mountain. Here players can live out the dream of having supernatural powers, without even having to lift a finger.
InteraXon takes a very different approach, examining the electrical waves emitted from your brain to levitate chairs, dodge flying discs (The Game) and even control musical outputs from instruments. Nevertheless, for the more casual gamer, InteraXon have now teamed up with Secret Exit, the game developers who brought us Zen Bound and Zen Bound 2 to create the Brainwave enabled Zen Bound 2 iPhone and iPad app, an indicator that mind control will be going mainstream in years to come.
Currently the technology can only be used to convert electrical activity into binary code; 1s and 0s. Hence, at the moment, all you have to do is relax or focus, stop or go. Nevertheless, how may this expand in the foreseeable future? Will mind control technology be restricted to the gaming world or will it break out into the social. Could this technology help to note down all your thoughts and post them up on Twitter for all to see? How would this be vetted and most importantly, could you even think in 140 characters or less? I know I couldn’t. Imagine if people could actually real your thoughts at present, like a modern day lie machine. It’s a bit scary, but the technology is there, it might be unwanted, it might be underdeveloped, but the potential is still there.
They haven’t been around for long but social gaming has naturally found its way into our phones, our networks and our real lives. T-Mobile brought Angry Birds Live into life, literally, with a human scale version of the popular game. Here participants were able the fling the enraged feathered creature across Terrassa’s central square in Barcelona, gaining over 6 million YouTube views within the first three weeks of release. What does this tell us? Well, one shouldn’t underestimate the power of these feisty friends!
Rovio are now looking to make geo-location part of the game, using Magic Places to unlock additional levels, with enhanced features through Nokia’s NFC technology. Social gaming is of course, getting more social, forcing users to interact in real life, rather than hiding behind a screen. Jeffrey Jiang, Director at Touch Dimensions highlighted this in June ’10 CommunicAsia conference; ‘90% of gamers will be on their mobile in the future’, so what does this mean for advertising?
Augmented reality is continuously popping up and around social gaming, especially with the evolution of Third Eye from Viewdle. Third Eye uses facial recognition technology to decide whether you’re a vampire or slayer. Evidently, the game allows you to recruit your friends or warriors into your clan. Therefore is social gaming moving into the era of multiplayer applications, using real people and objects to complete virtual levels?
If social gaming and geo-location is going to be the next big thing, then what will happen to those that are considered as lazy players? Will your mobile phone automatically log you into a game without knowing? Could walking to and from work somehow introduce you into a world of location- based gaming, without your knowing? Maybe you will suddenly begin to receive tokens or rewards for completing tasks within a gaming world that you are not even aware of doing.
Could living your life actually become the game, bridging the gap between the virtual and physical world? Maybe even simple traditional tasks like watering your garden will translate over to watering your crops in Farmville or cooking a meal in your kitchen might serve the whole restaurant in CaféWorld? Hooking up social gaming apps to your oven and garden hose may seem a bit odd, but would it encourage career gamers to finally get their hands dirty? Who knows, maybe your spade will replace the next Wii 2 remote control console in the future, wouldn’t that be interesting!
Ever wanted to just jump into a Mini and race across Paris, Milan, Tokyo or New York? Well now you can in Google Maps latest mash up; Mini Maps. An ideal platform for creativity, Google Maps is no longer a site for navigation, but instead one for zombies, graffiti, ash-clouds and more zombies apparently. Well if they cannot take over the real world, then the virtual one will just have to do, as proven by Fleck and the ever increasingly popular Royal Wedding Zombie application. Here, you pitch your zombies against the might of Buckingham Palace’s guards, who let’s face it, stand a better chance than Leicester City Council, according to the BBC.
Yet, Google Maps is actually becoming a vital part of social media. Whether its health, shopping or the environment, designers continue to develop numerous useful and provocative ways of expressing information. I mean, just take a look at these; Singapore’s Dengue Fever Map, HealthMap & Toronto’s Start STP Map, yet what about other areas of health? Does retail therapy count?
A new phase that has hit the online high street is geo-tagging real time purchases on Google Maps. Zappos, ThisNext, The Book Depository and Net-a-Porter have all experimented within this realm, highlighting current trends and demonstrating the influences that people have on one another’s purchases. Groupon now hopes to capitalise on this, letting consumers view their nearest deals in Chicago, yet how long will Google Maps mash ups last within a Microsoft dominated world and can it become more physical? Just check out this video below for a little bit of inspiration:
Facebook’s power and influence is far stretching and the business links it has made through banner advertisements, fan pages, Facebook Places Deals and Facebook Connect is impressive. Yet, the tool that has truly infiltrated the user’s psyche is the ‘Like’ button, but how long will it remain within the digital world? Will it creep into the physical?
Let’s start with the stamp made by UK based design studio Nation, a prototype that allows you to brand your papers with the Like Button. It’s definitely a novel idea, but what’s the point? It only works within the digital world because it enables users the chance to give direct feedback with minimal effort – the lazy boys answer to a conversation. Hence, when Brian Ciaccio released customised post-it ‘Like’ notes under ‘Like in Real Life’ it was without a question a real failure, raising only $80, so why are companies still trying? What makes the ‘Like’ button so special?
Well, not all companies have faced Brian Ciaccio’s fate; Diesel and Renault are the perfect example of this. Diesel’s latest campaign involves customers Facebook ‘Liking’ there products through QR codes, whilst Renault and Hyundai brought it to life with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips installed in pillars next to their cars at the annual Auto RAI event in Amsterdam 2011. Both worked wonders at drawing the crowd, but the crown has to go to Coca Cola Israel, whose digital village resulted in 54,000 Likes within a three day period.
So has ‘Like’ suddenly become one of the most overrated worlds in the English dictionary? Will it become the next nice? Are we suddenly going to be expected to ‘Like’ everything on the high street to receive offers and actually, what if we don’t like things? I mean check out Marmite, I don’t dislike it, but I don’t like it, it’s ok, acceptable in my opinion, so will a third icon have to be invented for those who just don’t care?
Hence, if the ‘Like’ button is all about communication, then will people use it in future for brainstorming sessions, will it replace the dreaded ‘X’ in Britain’s Got Talent and could it be used for breaking up with partners? Harsh, but just in case, keep the ‘Like’ button in the digital world, for now at least.