So you want to make a viral ad, huh? Cool, catchy, and instantly memorable without being hideously annoying are your needs, so do you hire some brick and mortar group to come up with what’s basically a commercial ported over to the web? Hell, no. You find people who know what they’re doing. And who knows making viral content better than the fine blokes of Weebl? After all, Badger, Kenya, and Magical Trevor tore through the intraweb like razorblades through melted butter. Halls made a smart, smart move by getting the Weebl kids to do a short for their Fruit Breezers, now the only question is will Hall’s credibility go up in proportion to Weebls going down?
Some interesting points: Obviously the tune is Trevoresque, and it’s got one catchy little refrain, but that can work against the ad as being a cheap attempt to cash in on an existing hit. The short is a lot longer than I would have expected from the Weebl crew, but Halls is probably just anxious to get their money’s worth. It’s also not a constant loop, so the impact may be lessened. Part of Trevor’s appeal was the seamless repetition, which worked to insinuate that wonderful little tune in your head as effectively as any song can. (Raffi probably knows that better than anyone.) Finally, and what may be most importantly, Halls has blatantly bound this clip to it’s own website, which may halt it’s ability to move about the web free of corporate fingers, and reinforces the advertisment factor for viewers.
Halls isn’t the first brand that attempted to catch some easy ‘net cred by using established creators; Nike did it with their ‘jacket’ ads, and Lee Jeans just about opened the floodgates with their SuperGreg and crew websites. This is a tactic that we’ll be seeing more and more of as companies realize the incredible reach a well-done viral ad can achieve. Obviously the biggest advantage of viral advertising is the format itself. A commercial doesn’t feel like a commerical when it’s stumbled upon, or passed along in e-mail forwards and link exchanges. An ad that would cause cringing projected on a movie screen or in the middle of your favorite television show becomes something removed from an actual advertisment when it’s delivered to your desktop. They cease being ads and become shorts, and that change is reflected in how those ads are received and retained by the viewer.
The downfall of viral advertising is that once you let something go on the web, you’re no longer in control of the campaign. As a piece gets forwarded, highlighted on a site (like say, this one), or just mentioned in blogs or messageboards, the perception and success of the ad is controlled by whomever is delivering it to the viewer. Whether it’s snarky comments, a ‘hey, check this out’, or a second by second dissection of any given piece, the originators of that content have lost their ability to control how it’s received. It’s akin to reading a series of reviews before seeing a move; regardless of whether you agree with the review, your perception of that film has already been primed to see it as the reviewer has dictated.
That’s one bumpy little pickle, now ain’t it? However, if marketing groups and their clients can understand just how important that hands-off approach is, viral advertising will continue to become a powerful force in the field of advertising and brand-building. Cool is king, and nothing is cool about an ad you’ll 35 times during the prime time hours, but a little site that may or may not be an advertisement? That’s mysterious and that’s cool. And we like to share those cool things, because we all know that part of being cool is the perception of being in on the secrets the rest of the world doesn’t know. I’ve fallen for virals, and my reaction upon learning their true intention has always been one of ‘well done’ rather than ‘oh, it’s just an ad’, so I hope to see more and more innovation in how these little clips o’ cool are delievered and propogated.
Now as to whether Halls can reap any benefits from this clip will remain to be seen, but I’ll give ‘em marks for picking the right crew to try it with.