Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When did viral become funny?

I'm sad to say that I caught a few minutes of the latest "Apprentice" the other night. The two teams had been asked to come up with a viral video for a laundry detergent. The results were beyond disastrous and in the boardroom Trump asked the teams why they both selected humor to deliver the video. The response was "...the client asked for a viral video."

This happens a lot. The assumption that for content to be worth sharing it must be funny. This is the case with a lot of the online examples and works on occasion. Yes, most of these examples get thousands of views - but works on occasion was meant to imply that the right people share the video and actually connect with the brand. I love the use of humor in all advertising, but I think that in some cases it is too easy to jump to the conclusion that viral = humor. If you look at why we share something, it's usually funny, exciting, shocking, puzzling, self-assuring, or some other emotional response that drives us to find someone else to share that something with. The point is that we tend to only share things that are interesting. I'd avoid the word if I could - but it just needs emotion. Sometimes funny is the cop-out. The cheap trick. There can be more done with this strategy if we continue to push it past the comfortable.

Thinking interesting means using the media for what it can deliver, rather than what it does now.