Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Viral Marketing or Fear Marketing?

The more things change the more they stay the same…well kind of. As viral marketing is maturing we are beginning to see a conversion of technologies and strategies that allow us to use social communications to learn in new and different ways?  This combines the old school idea of carefully planning a highly creative strategy (this costs money) and a new means of a more immersive media experience ( this is where the new technology comes in). An important part of this process is the use of fear in the narrative of the viral campaigns. Think about it … we are hard wired to the verbal and visual narrative and keenly aware of anything fearful – it’s in our nature. Marketers use fear since it appeals to a wide audience as a narrative for advertising.   

 Below I have provided three examples of recent viral programs that are currently using fear as the primary sub-text of the narrative story in their ad. Some have been successful and show us the way to new and interesting learning opportunities while others ….not so much. These examples illustrate different levels of social communications and how they play out depending on how well thought out and creative the strategies are and how immersive the media experience is.  You will notice from the examples that the more fearful and immersive the story telling is the more we are engaged.  

We devour content today…more than ever - and this is witnessed in our cultures ever growing consumption of media, we feast on tragedy in the news, we increasingly watch horror movies and urban fantasy;  and we praise apocalyptic zombie television series. The mediums have proliferated and now we can consume more fearful information through more channels than ever. So what makes one better than another to us or what makes us choose one medium over another. I have put together a few examples of this …to show you the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of fear viral marketing…each if progressively a more immersive story telling experience!

Let’s start with the Ugly. Red Bull’s recent Titanic ad has resulted in many complaints as the ad suggests that passengers on the Titanic might have survived if they had drunk Red Bull.  They get marks for being bold – but the strategy that “any press is good press” really doesn’t apply here since these are tasteless ads that do not appeal to a wide audience and really don’t hit the mark with their existing customers either. Not particularly immersive and jot a lot of story hear

Next The Bad …well not really bad in the true sense of the word. If you count the end of the world and a quirky creative as bad …then this fits the bill. This ad delivers a viral video for LG it shows people, in a job interview witnessing the end of the world through an LG screen they think is a window. Great creative, not a lot of social interaction, certainly more immersive storytelling delivering great brand awareness through the viral effect.

The Good is much more integrated ad that utilizes social media, video, learning and a narrative story to enhances our participation and emerge us in the ad. This involves accessing an App that has been developed by the British Red Cross, that links to your Facebook page , and feeds in factious comments from friends as you witness a horrific knife attack on a bus. The viral ad teaches us how to respond and possibly save a life in the process. Great creative, good integration and great story telling to engage the audience - check it out

In each of the scenarios above we have witnessed a progressively increasing emersion in a variety of mediums and interaction with fear as the primary narrative backbone to feed our insatiable desire to be entertained, share with our friends and learn in the process. Maybe we are getting tired of sex as the primary viral attraction ?




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