The rise of the follies

I just came across the latest video from the Evian Live Young campaign, featuring a baby in a dance-off with Spider-man. Two things happened, my mouth twitched upwards in a smile, and my finger twitched in compliance to share with my social network. This seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the increasingly popular marketing trend of harnessing the power of the preposterous.

In fact, the sillier the better – as Three Mobile has proven with their latest string of campaigns which have featured a pug in a Christmas jumper and birthday hat, a cat singing to ‘We Built This City on Rock & Roll’ (#Singonkitty) – and my personal favourite ‘#danceponydance’ presenting a dancing Shetland Pony.

Cadbury’s is another to follow suit with their depiction of a man in the office, singing to “Yes Sir I can Boogie”.

When it comes to maintaining and increasing brand presence, these campaigns are certainly effective. The Three Mobile Shetland Pony video received just shy of 9 million views – making it more popular than Will Smith and Jazzy Jeffs timeless hit, Summer Time (with 4 million). When you consider that the #danceponydance was published in 2013, you can see just how successful it really was. Three’s practice of making the name of the campaign a hash tag is fuel to the sharing wildfire, ensuring the video trends when shared and mentioned on Twitter.

So why is this tactic of embracing folly so successful, and when is it most appropriate?

Well, in answer to the former – as an apathetic nation, we are wary of  the typical informative, hard sale approach – instantly tuning out when it comes to traditional adverts – responding much more favourably to foolery.

 Another factor to the success of silliness is that it works well within the function of social media. For the individual, social media serves as a platform to share whatever one  is genuinely interested in with others. It just so happens that everyone likes a laugh and so nothing gets shared more than a good giggle, meaning these tactics work perfectly well within social media. Additionally, we tend to remember what makes us laugh – as a result these campaigns are memorable and by default spread like wildfire.

So when are these tactics appropriate? i.e, for B2C brands such as Evian, Cadbury and Coca Cola, they work fine – but can this approach work for B2B marketing in industries and with products products which require a degree of seriousness?

Well, no – not exactly, although the overall essence can be applied in order inject some humour into what is considered an otherwise unexciting subject, and get people to take notice.

This is what we did to raise awareness for LV=’s new Relevant Life Cover product. Juxtaposing interesting, yet irrelevant facts with the relevant fact that LV= had this new product.  Plus, we were playing with the idea that no-one seemed to know why the product was called ‘Relevant Life Cover’!

The irrelevant fact and funny images caught peoples attention, leading them to the key message that we wanted to get across. More on this campaign here.  LV= were even approached by advisers asking permission to replicate the campaign for their own B2C marketing campaigns!

For B2C marketing, foolishness works brilliantly well – whether for product awareness or to maintain brand presence. This technique is perfect when the objective is to communicate to your target, “hey, we are here” and also works well alongside a simple campaign tagline, like Evian’s ‘Live Young’. If done correctly, like Evian, one tagline, and a commitment to fun, can be the creative source for numerous viral videos that your audience will actually look out for.

Whilst B2B companies within the financial industry may be limited on what they communicate externally, the technique of funny yet memorable videos can work well internally, to raise awareness of company events, deadlines, awards won, or even to increase morale whilst communicating an objective.

Our Moreish view is that we all need the silly stuff once in a while, and that this is a great way to utilize social media to up your profile whilst generating general goodwill. On that note, here is the latest in the Evian Live Young Campaign – Baby vs Spider-Man. Enjoy!