The China Syndrome
“Viral Marketing is becoming like China’s Opening Ceremony. Glitz and Glamour with the pang of disapointment.” – something I tweeted last night.
The stakes of viral marketing have increased. No longer are we content with watching something and passing it on. We want to connect, and we want to feel like we are as individual as we know we are.
The idea of this article hit me last night while chatting with @allroundniceguy (nice twitter like there) – The idea of marketing being more than a new term like Viral Marketing. That term has been floated around for a while now, and because of that the meaning has been simplified.
To start off with the viral ads came to us, they didn’t intrude on our personal time like television ads. They came to us when we wanted to waste time. As time has gone on, we have grown so accomstomed to the ads being ads that we are looking for more. And with that means we are looking for a certain authenticity in where we invest our time.
Lets first examine bike-guitar-hero. We watched. We were amazed. It looked like some kids had spent ages putting the whole thing together. It was fun and it was special. Then, we found out it was fake [via ZeFrank]. When I read it was fake I felt so betrayed – what was kids with passion, turned into kids paid by guys in suits. The video lost its sparkle.
Before I had read the MTV article, I had begun to think about the Beijing Opening Ceremony. We were all amazed at the spectacle, but again it turned out to be “enhanced”. When we learnt that, the magic was gone from the whole Games. From that point onwards we were all watching to see if we could spot the stains that everyone knows exist in China.
Now lets travel back in time, long enough to before YouTube was around – in those days we had to pass videos around via videos. Back then viral marketing was just getting started, and we had great ads like John West. Youtube changed the way we waste time on the internet, which is great, but it also means that because of being flooded by adverage videos we expect more.
With the profileration of adverage we want and deserve more. The ante has been upped. We now need *more* for us to be sufficiently satisified.
I think it had something to do with a late night, or perhaps it was to do with being excited by what we’re working on, but I had a dream last night:
We were standing out the front of an expencive hotel leaning on the door of an Aston Martin (hey, it was a dream), my wife walked out and said we wouldn’t be staying there. “The man behind the desk was rude and didn’t sell anything. He just went on and on about how great the Hotel is.” I looked at her quizzingly, and she said “What I was looking for was an authentic conversation about what we were looking for, and how they could best help us.”
All the viral videos. All the hard work to get our attention has only dulled our senses. It is harder for us to engage in anything at all if it feels unauthentic. And if we find out after we have invested emotionally in it, like with the guitar-bike-hero and opening ceremony, it only removes the magic we once felt. It leaves a us feeling ripped off.
What we are really looking for is an Authentic Conversation. For marketers to communicate to us honestly, and to let us make up our own minds. Maybe we just want to be treated like human beings, not communicated down to, but spoken to like we are real.
Social media is personal, we invest real time into our digital places (like myspace and facebook) and because of that we feel like thats what we should get in return. Marketing to be tailored directly to us. No lies. The companies who can offer us that, will win our hearts.
They are authentic, they are like us…