Tougher Than Ever For TV Ads To Get That Viral 'Spice'

TV marketers may be disappointed when they don't get all the buzz and love for the spiffy creative of their TV commercials.

Up until recently, only the Super Bowl has been the big stage for getting one's TV commercial talked about. Then the Internet changed everything.

You could do cool creative -- with less restrictions from the networks, and less concern over viewers who might shrug their shoulders, or worst, take offense.  Marketers can now seed their commercials efforts everywhere -- and let the fun begin.

In many MediaPost conferences, for example, there are always digital marketing executives who grouse about a specific request from clients: How can I get my commercial to go viral? The execs' answer? You can't exactly have a roadmap. You may have a plan, but to be sure it won't be a media plan.

 Part of viral's magic comes from being... well, viral. Word-of-mouth and uncontrolled consumer interaction can't be built with any degree of specificity.  Even putting something on YouTube, or seeding comments on Twitter or Facebook, will only get you so far. 



A recent study noted that "viral potential" was based on, "distinctiveness and celebrity, and buzz." Well, yeah.

Now comes the bad news: Viral is now a tougher business.

 A recent Millward Brown study noted only 15% of 102 wide-ranging commercials went viral. Millward Brown defined a viral hit as getting 5,000 views in the U.S.

So this is disturbing news. Either the Internet isn't doing its job, or creatives are getting lame. Another reason could be what social media proponents have been talking about: Increasingly, people just want to entertain themselves.

To be sure there are still big viral hits: Old Spice's current "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" has pulled in 5.3 million YouTube views. It also got the initial spin of being a Super Bowl commercial.

The bigger picture could be an old-age concern about advertising: What may be great creative may have nothing to do with selling products. Millward Brown says there was "no relation between persuasion and viral potential."

The Old Spice spot had my wife in stitches. But would she buy the product? No. Would I buy the product? No.

But I imagine some women who are in the market for some sort of friendly body odor for their man might remember to chuckle as they pass by the cologne shelves, and pick up an Old Spice bottle.

What did I remember from watching the viral Old Spice ad?

That would be the commercial that came before it: Bounty Extra Soft paper towels.

Problem is, that commercial would never go viral. Come to think of it, I didn't even really remember what that creative was about.

Yet, I'm still remembering something triggered by the Old Spice ad...

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