Computer Love

All the (marketing) world loves a viral video. Is Viral Video the Future of Advertising?

At least that’s what it seems in this day and age.  But while thousands of crafty marketing professionals gather round the water cooler diligently plotting their successful induction into the annals of viral-viewing history, thousands of others are pounding their heads against their desks at their failed foray of a similar nature.  

But what’s the real deal with viral videos and why we’re so obsessed with seeing everything through our computer screens these days?  Are we really too lazy to take the ten steps to the couch to view advertising as the predecessors intended — while munching on Jiffy Pop, petting our golden retriever as our 2.5 kids digest mom’s meatloaf and freshly whipped mashed potatoes?  Uhm yeah, apparently so.  

Every good brand marketing strategy finds a way to connect with consumers on an emotional level. But the very bad ones find a way to connect and then betray said consumers at the end. Truly a Viral Marketing Failure, this company clearly spent money to diminish their brand once all was said and done. One of the main starting points in marketing is to know your customer. The marketing team behind this gem obviously didn’t put enough stock into what they should have known about their potential customer. Additionally, given the product they were selling, insurance, one would think that what you want to instill is a feeling of trustworthiness. To the client’s misfortune, the agency did just the opposite of that and likely had a negative impact on their brand. I don’t know too many people who’d put trust in a company that invested so much into a farce of that magnitude.

Although agencies are hired to make a certain statement and garner more positive attention for brands, it almost seems like the best way to go viral is to do so organically. Careful planning and clever copy helps a lot, but many of the most highly orchestrated viral campaigns find a way to somehow crash and burn. Ironically, though the insurance company’s slogan, “Unexpected things happen in life. Be insured to have your loved ones assured,” underscores the assurance their customers would want, though the campaign undermined it. Hopefully, it’s a lesson well learned.

A Hard Day’s Night

I watched the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy on a whim. I’d dabbled with the first season of E.R., but not since fighting to stay awake in my youth for snippets of St. Elsewhere had a hospital based drama kept me so riveted.  I was so enamored that I went to ABC’s website to see if they’d dangle a few hints of the upcoming episode when I stumbled upon it… an online community for viewers to chat (well, type) along as the show unfolds.

I was simultaneously relieved to find others as bewitched as me, and a bit daunted at signing up to join them. While I’d certainly become aware of blogging by then, I remained a bit skeptical of the whole process. Written words don’t convey the commenter’s tone as well as the spoken word and it just seemed a little weird to talk to strangers about the faux lives of characters.  Keep in mind — 2005’s skepticism has morphed into 2012’s slight disdain, but that’s another topic.  I think it’s safe for me to blame the folks above for turning me on to joining the forum almost as quickly as abc.go.com turned me off of it!

Gaining entrance into those password-protected gates proved quite the feat.  This is because somewhere down the line I’d signed up for another ABC affiliated site and while they couldn’t identify which one, my email address was linked to it.  So the site urged me to dredge my memory for that golden password since it was all connected.  What? Who has time for this when ‘Grey’s’ is coming on??? Certainly not I, so in a flash of brilliance, I toss out another email, strictly for online chat purposes and yes, I promptly forgot the new password on a weekly basis.  I’d even get online 45 minutes to an hour in advance so I could tussle with the virtual gatekeeper, but soon became weary.

I missed the catfights and defending McSteamy’s appeal over McDreamy’s, but I had to wean myself off the site and after a few questionable plot twists, the show, itself.  At this juncture, they’ve gotten much better with transparency so that you know it’s all in the family.  But also, the option to save a username and/or password on sites have facilitated traipsing in and out with much more ease.  That darned technology thing is really starting to grow on me.

Keep the Customer Satisfied

The Customer (Service Rep) is Always Right

The push – pull between customers and customer service representatives goes back to the dawn of time. The classic Saturday Night Live skit exhibits the crux of the problem, most readily apparent on anybody’s hotline at 3 a.m. in the morning… what’s being said by one person isn’t necessarily what’s being heard by the next! I’ve found this to be most true when calling my beloved cable companies; and yes, I’ve tried them all. (I’m way out of the closet about my addiction to reality TV, Game Show Network and IFC.)

Comcast’s foray into the twit-olution may be too little too late for current and former customers, like myself. Disgruntled, disgusted and disillusioned, pretty much sums it up. But I applaud the effort to take the customer by the hand and let them click their way back into the light if they’re savvy enough to know the virtual help desk is out there. Unfortunately, I missed this boat and have succumbed to far too many excessive holds to ever return. If they really want to assist their core customer– those who after a 12 hour day just want to cozy up to cable– the branding should be more aggressive. Why not purposefully divert the phone traffic? They could put a scrolling message on the blank screen when service crashes, inviting customers to meet them on line for a quick fix. Additionally, lots of us who can’t be bothered with postal mail do electronic billing, so an embedded link in the email would make it all too easy.

If nothing else, a few incentives might also make more customers want to meet them online with a cooler head rather than holding 10-15 minutes to cuss someone out live.