Viral Videos – How Manipulative Should They Be?

22 Mar

Every once in a while, I use this blog as a class assignment. I apologize for anyone who sees this post, wondering why their Teen Wolf recaps have been interrupted (or in the case of Season 3B, not started  [because I haven’t watched this season. Spoilers? Jeff Davis is awful?) or where there film reviews are.

But this was always a pop culture blog as well as a film&tv one. Just because I forgot doesn’t mean you should forget too!

Either way, by now you’ve probably heard about the viral video where two random strangers are filmed kissing.

kissing viral video, viral videos,

I’m not adding the video because I’m not letting you give it more hits unintentionally. |Image by IBNLive

And if you’re as cynical as I am, you already knew that “viral video” meant an ad campaign, “two strangers” meant they were actors of some sort, and “filmed” meant the really awkward moments were left on the cutting room floor.

As an advertising student and reading about how there are companies that are designed in creating the best viral videos for campaigns, it’s almost sickening to see how easily we as consumers can be manipulated to want to share something videos for companies.

(On the other hand, considering I didn’t even know that the video was an ad for anything, so either I’ve been trained to ignore it or they did a terrible job at getting people to recognize the product. Huh.)

But I wasn’t as cynical as I should have been. Apparently, some viral video campaigns can’t actually compete with others because people are more interested in watching awkward adorable moments than videos on important issues.

Looking at an article on Advertising Age,  “That Kissing Stunt Bosses ‘Bossy’ on the Viral Video Chart,” the Kissing Video had has the highest viral videos of this week. The highest being the First Kiss Video, created by Wren, and going down the list all the way to the adorable “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign by the Melbourne Metro Trains.

What this list does is a few fascinating things. One is the sheer magnitude of how companies have been able to turn the internet age back onto us. Instead of allowing people to create their own content and have massive videos, companies have been able to create videos that they know people will share. That’s a little terrifying. There’s also the fact that “Dumb Ways to Die” is still charting on this list, which I find amazing, considering this ad came out maybe two years ago.Granted, this video is adorable and catchy, and if you haven’t heard it, I’m sorry for you.

The final thing is just how terrifying it is that people are more willing to watch silly videos that have no merit (like the Kissing Video or other ads) than videos that actually spread awareness on an incredibly important issue. Women should not be considered bossy ever, and if the likes of Beyonce and other important women can’t tear you away from your kissing viral videos that have been designed to get you to like them, then what will?

But! You exclaim in horror. This is a film blog, even if it does say pop culture. I don’t care about kissing videos. What about film and television viral videos??? Well fear not, random reader. An actually great viral film example would be the Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise, done by the Carrie film campaign. Instead of shoving any in the viewers face about how they should see the movie, it allows the viewer to be mystified as to how this the trick was done and peoples genuine reactions happen. Obviously, once the video ends and the short (incredibly short) ad for the film comes up, it becomes obvious that the viral video is a campaign. Does that take away from it’s shareability?

Do people take viral video campaigns as less believable when they’re outright stated that they’re viral? Is it better for companies to try to express the story first without expressing their product? And on that note, is it better that people connect the video to the product/company immediately, or should people want to share the video with their friends before the video has actually ended?

Either way, I have always found viral videos to be one of the most manipulative and annoying advertising campaigns out there, but I always get dragged back in. It does’t matter that people think they’re cute and that companies think they’re being unique. I feel betrayed as soon as I learn that a company has paid for a video that has become so popular.

If you have a chance, check out these blogs!


2 Responses to “Viral Videos – How Manipulative Should They Be?”

  1. bethanymurphy24 March 23, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I don’t believe having a short ad takes away from the shareability of the video. I think it’s the content people are sharing, and if it happens to have an ad at the end so be it. If a video has “gone viral” it is something that I am missing out on. To me, it means it’s something a million or more people have already seen and I haven’t. If a video has gone viral, there’s usually a good reason for it (or at least I hope there is). I like the idea of a company expressing their brand through a story, I think it resonates more with viewers. I don’t think there has to be an outright display of a product at the beginning of an ad if there are certain feelings you want to associate with it.

  2. musicbehavior March 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    I have no problem with viral videos – especially when companies recognize them as emerging channels for advertisements. It makes me think that ad agencies are putting an effort back into being creative without worrying about the strings of traditional media. They are willing to take messages further than ever and still endure the cloud of judgment that internet users are known for. At the end of the day, there’s a reason that these videos go viral. Millions of people are sharing then because of their substance, and not their sales pitch.

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