A few amateurs created a giant lego ball and videotape their friend dressed as Indiana Jones running from it down a San Francisco hill, where it crashes into a car. Of course the pieces stay intact, and the ball appears to be stryofoam dressed with legos. What’s wrong about this video? We think the fake lego ball wasn’t the only inauthenticity in what may have been “stealth marketing.”
Lots of online buzz suggesting this is a stealth campaign… for the new Indiana Jones Movie? A lego product placement? Either way, how about a little transparency?
Either way, what did anyone get out of concealing a potential sponsor (if indeed there was one)? Maybe fewer people would have seen it? It has 800,000 views to date, so maybe it would have lost 10% or 20% of those views if it had a “thanks to (insert sponsor’s name here) for funding this” at the end? Instead we have bad buzz about stealth marketing, specific producers and sponsors.
What’s wrong with transparency? I know films aren’t yet forced to list paid sponsors in end-credits, but I still believe amateurs have an obligation to their audiences to let them know when they’re enjoying a product on its own merits or for a kickback. At a recent conference, we asked if anyone would care if there was a sponsored product in a viral video. Most don’t care about product placement unless it’s obtrusive and transparent.
The bottom line? Video advertising that’s not forced must entertain. But it shouldn’t masquerade as pure entertainment if it’s funded with a sales objective. There’s nothing dirty about wanting to market your brand virally, but doing it “stealth” will raise ire from the online-video community every time. They’ll see the brand as deceptive and the creator as manipulative. And the next time that creator appears, the viewers will scan for logos and comment about further selling out.