Is the art of letter writing dead?

Once upon a time in a land of polite acceptance, a disappointed and frustrated customer would take a big breathe of indignation and write a letter of complaint to the not so subtly named 'complaints department' of a corporation.  Sometimes, a response would be received. OK, that was back in the dark ages when it wasn't polite to complain and corporations didn't feel a strong need to listen to customers.  How things have changed.

Yes, the art of letter writing is dead. So are customer complaints departments. Or at least, they have become increasingly redundant.

Consumers now bypass the corporation altogether and take their complaints into the public - see the Vodafail YouTube video below

It appears to be far more effective, creative and engaging than the staid old letter ...the collective can participate and as the group voice becomes louder with ever click on You Tube, you can imagine CEOs demanding action... Now!

YouTube parodies go mainstream

1st blog post of the year...apologies for not getting one up sooner, but it does take a few weeks to get back into the swing of things. picked up on a great YouTube parody by the NSW rugby team the Waratahs

Check out the original video posted by the 'All blacks' below

Now check out the Waratahs parody:

Note: Both a cashing in on the current trend of super viral trick videos doing the rounds on YouTube, see some below:

So the rule appears to be once something goes's fair game to do a parody!

Old spice & memes

I've been thinking for a few months about the cause behind the amazing success of the 'Old Spice' viral and response campaign.

See the truly epic numbers below.

But how can we explain this astonishing success?

Susan Stancombe (founder and MD here at Stancombe Research and Planning) recently brought up the topic of 'memes'. Without going into too much depth, a 'meme' is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea (source: Note: For a more in-depth explanation go to wikipedia here

From my understanding, what makes memes so interesting is that they behave exactly like genes and viruses. Meaning memes can:
  • Be passed on virally through the media or from person to person, e.g. viral marketing
  • Replicate themselves by effecting people's behaviour which in turn effects how others behave, e.g. notice how there is always 'a new black' everyone starts copying
  • Evolve to suit environmental pressures/factors to survive, e.g. we see this happen in the music world a lot
Memes are a difficult concept to understand since they only exist only in our minds. Unlike DNA and viruses, we can't actually see a meme! However, it could be argued that the pandemic spread of ideas like the 'Old Spice' campaign not only proves the existence of memes, but they've most likely existed since the birth of the human race (i.e. think about the spread of religion)

The concept of a meme as a living breathing 'idea' that can spread is a challenging one, but offers a different perspective on how to view cultural trends and phenomena, i.e. which ideas will adapt and thrive over time (e.g. religion) and which ideas will spread quickly and eventually be snuffed out (e.g. boy bands)

New Guinness Ad - only 150k youtube hits

OK - so this new ad is not doing so well virally

Personal I didn't get inspired by this ad.

I think what may be blocking the connection and engagement with the brand and message, is the riot of special effects and over stylization.

As Clive Wing pointed out - "Style over Substance, Transformer style"


As GeekyGirlUK* points out - "Visually beautiful, but ultimately empty . Yes, it's all about brand awareness, and I guess that what Guiness want people to be aware of is that their ads are usually a benchmark for 'clever/artistic' ads. However, I think the premise is tired..."

*This comment was found on the youtube comments page regarding the Guinness ad

Another successful viral campaign - even the Germans are having a crack!

Another successful viral video - 2 million views on YouTube after 7 days is not half bad.

This one has got me thinking...

1) Are viral videos now truely mainstream and part of popular culure? Maybe because I'm Gen Y - I'm now more likely to watch and remember a viral video than a TVC for the simple fact the popular ones strike an emotional connection with me - i.e. an emotional imprint occurs. We often see it in groups now, people struggling to remember ads they saw on TV.

2) At the heart of most successful viral videos is real people people 'DOING' real stuff. People like watching people 'DOING' stuff - maybe because we like to post rationalise why people do the things they do - which allows us to feel involved and visualise ourselves in the situation

I wonder if we can test viral 'experiential campaigns' the same ways as TVCs? I'm not sure we can, but it would be good to hear what others think...I'm thinking about actors could role play the idea!

Improv everywhere's latest stunt - possible recruitment insight?

My favourite day brighteners 'Improv everywhere' recently pulled off a simple mission:

To set up a photo studio in a Subway carriage and take photos of commuters.

What surprises me is how many people were willing to have strange' dorky' people take their photo

"While conventional wisdom would have you believe that New Yorkers are cynical and gruff– we had no trouble finding lots of fun people willing to get on board with two lame looking dudes in cheap blue dress shirts"

I wonder if we can somehow capture what Improv Everywhere does to get more fresh research participants?

The creative megalogue

I recently came across the word megalogue:

"A simultaneous conversation between large numbers of people. Since the word “dialogue” implies two people, it ceases to work for large-scale communication such as internet blogs, chat sessions, or nationwide water-cooler conversations.
v. To hold a large-scale conversation" from Urban dictionary.

The recent web hit the 'JK Wedding Entrance Dance' I think is part of a creative megalogue, because it sits within a greater creative conversation that can be tracked back to other web hits such as

1) Chris Browns single Forever (was a top 10 hit in 2008 and was originally commissioned by Wrigglys for a gum commercial!) (50 million views)

2) Popular shows like 'So you think you can dance' and 'Britain got Talent', which show case non to semi professional dancers which encourage inspiring dancers (14 million views)

3) Videos that show case how much fun 'out of the blue' dancing can be (13 million views)

4) actually anyone dancing in a group is pretty popular (30 million views)

5) or individually (123 million views)

6) But, all this great content is inspiring people to create create their own authentic content and share the 'JK Wedding Entrance Dance' (7.5 million views), Kudos for Chris Brown not taking the video down for copyright infringement, it's obviously win win for everyone

6) And the cycle is completed when mainstream media picks up amateur content and uses it for inspiration, i.e. 'Dancing with the Stars Australia' have tasked a couple with re-creating the above JK Wedding Entrance Dance. see

What I really love about this creative megalogue is how nobody is in control and there is no obvious starting or end point. It's an ongoing discussion between the mainstream media/big players, the professionals, the amateurs and the audience. It's all spontaneous and organic...if it's good, it rises to the top of the heap...professional or not. Also, the size of the discussion is HUGE, the videos referenced here have been viewed collectively 237.5 million times!

Creative megalogues are likely to continue thanks to the viral nature of content that resonates. This has marketing implications for brands trying to get noticed or reposition themselves and provides a fresh new challenge...joining the creative megalogue...realising that communication pieces no longer sit in isolation, but are part of a much larger discussion.

UPDATE: Chris Browns song 'Forever' has now had a revival thanks to the viral wedding video...the circle is now complete! see link here