Yeah, This Week I'm Writing About The #Sharknado

Please, God, save me from writing about the #sharknado.

But I must. For if ever there was a Twitter-nado, it was last night, because of the beyond-awesome movie on Syfy called “Sharknado.” For the uninitiated, the movie featured the entirely plausible premise that a tornado could contain hundreds of sharks – and that they would wreak incredible havoc on the streets of Los Angeles.

Of course, I haven’t seen the movie – though I certainly plan to – but I was alerted to the vastness of its unique charms last night when I turned on the Tweetdeck and saw dozens upon dozens of tweets carrying the #sharknado hashtag. Literally, about 90% of the people I follow – most of them self-respecting members of the social media intelligentsia – were tweeting about a tornado made out of sharks. And it came out of nowhere! Not even The Weather Channel was prepared.

Of course, I wanted in on the action, even if I didn’t know precisely what the action was. I lamely tweeted, “no F*ckin idea what #sharknado is, but whatevs, #sharknado it is!” (If you need a summer Friday time-waster with much better tweets, check out the Sharknado page on Rebelmouse.)

And now, it’s the morning after. After cutting a wide swath through Twitter, talk of #sharknado has died down. At one point today it had died down to not even be a top 10 trending topic, leaving a sizable number of people completely out of the movie’s – wait for it – whirlwind. I just got off  a conference call, and when I mentioned the #sharknado, I was met with befuddlement.

It does make me wonder what we are to make of this social media event, and others like it. We increasingly find ourselves in the middle of spontaneous, zeitgeist-y moments when millions of people get obsessed with something and share it, only to lose the obsession as quickly as they acquired it. To some extent, this is simply the tenor of the times, or the real-times, you might say. So many memes hit the national, and international, psyche, and in such rapid succession, that ultimately one wonders if they have any long-lasting impact on the collective conscious.

Which makes it peculiar to consider that ever since the famous Oreo ad during the Super Bowl blackout, advertisers have been looking for the perfect #sharknado to piggyback on, and from what I can tell, they missed this one. The only advertiser participation I did see was a Twitpic from @Millerlite that was even lamer than my #sharknado tweet. Riffing off of the movie’s official poster, which simply stated:  “Sharknado … Enough said,” it replaced the shark on the poster with a Miller Lite bottle, under the headline “Litenado.” Really? If you can’t play well, don’t play at all.

And that, it seems, is the problem with real-time advertising that has the sole goal of tapping into the zeitgeist. The moment will be fleeting and often missed, and the creative executions? Most of the time, they will be meh. Real-time advertising – like confronting a tornado full of sharks – is not something most of us can do well.

6 comments about "Yeah, This Week I'm Writing About The #Sharknado ".
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  1. Keith Pape from 1K Agency, July 12, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.

    i love me some sharknado Cathy! i'm with you completely. as for the #rtm element - it would have been a special brand to ride that razor-toothed madness

  2. Kevin Gaydosh from O'Brien et al, July 12, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

    "Real-time advertising – like confronting a tornado full of sharks – is not something most of us can do well." A quote that's destined to go down in the annals of Ad Industry lore. I wish I'd said it. Nice, Catharine.

  3. Steven Flax from Cardiff Fulfillment Corporation, July 13, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.

    What should we call such fleeting, zeitgeisty moments that evaporate like the dew, that prove to be not even meme-worthy? I propose MEHnado.

  4. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, July 15, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

    The *real* story is: this is further evidence that real-time social can be weak at getting conversions, compared to other channels. All the buzz, "didn't translate to Nielsen ratings. Only 1.4 million viewers watched the movie, a typical audience for the channel's cheese-fests, proving yet again that Twitter can be an echo chamber among a few cheering loudly. "

  5. Kevin Horne from Verizon, July 15, 2013 at 5:04 p.m.

    Pete Austin for President !!!! ;-)

  6. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, July 18, 2013 at 9:13 a.m.

    Hi guys,
    Thanks for commenting. Prediction: that tonight's rerun of Sharknado will out rate the first run. The reason? I think most of us hadn't even heard of the movie until it was on. I've had plenty of conversations with people saying they missed it and asking when it was on again. I will report back.

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