Alka Seltzer Viral Campaign Taps YouTube Weblebrities, Cewebrities

Rhett and Link’s Alka Seltzer road show (see previous post) hit Philadelphia recently, and it didn’t take them asking more than once to convince me and a bunch of YouTube Cewebrities to hit Pat and Gino’s to appear in this video. I picked up CharlesTrippy, ShayCarl, TheMightyThor1212 and those gals to stop by before the YoTube events. We did it for fun not profit, but Rhett and Link were classy enough to feed us, and even send us off with beer money for that night (thanks, guys).

Favorite moment? The nervous look on the face of the agency account manager as she reluctantly handed me a Speedy statue. Don’t worry, agency lady. I’ll behave with him.

Admitting my bias, I’m still putting this promotion down as one of the top three smartest viral video campaigns of 2008. It joins the ranks of BMW’s Rampenfest and Diet Dr. Pepper’s Cherry Coke promotion of TayZonday.

It’s funny, entertaining, balanced well (promotion is subtle), it’s leveraging the charasmatic appeal of two video stars who have been provided creative control of the series. Rhett and Link give us a perfect example of advertising content that is first entertaining. And the branding finds a happy medium between, on one extreme, dominating the video, and on the other relegating itself to ignored pop-ups or lost entirely. The topics are related to food, the tone revitalizes an otherwise stale brand, and Alka Seltzer’s differentiator (the plop, fizz) is not lost. Bringing back Speedy was brilliant too.

The only thing I’d say about all three of these campaigns is that they probably could have been done more cost effectively. Diet Dr. Pepper got TayZonday for a song, but had some production overhead (it was also hampered by the reality that the drink tastes like the smell of a chocolate scratch and sniff, and that’s coming from a hardcore Diet Dr. Pepper guy).

The Alka Seltzer road show was fairly shoestring for television and advertising rackets, but still could be leaner (do you need 5 or more people beyond Rhett and Link at the shoot?). I don’t know about Rampenfest, but it looks very, very expensive (guessing $500-$1,000 MM).



On NBC Today Show… this morning. maybe.

Greetings boys, girls and willvideoforfooders!
I’m your substitute, I mean “GuestOfNalts (.)” today 🙂

As you know this self proclamied viral video genius, Kevin ‘Nalts’ Nalty, started talking to himself early on, as we see in several of his more delightful films: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, AND here!


Kevin has developed a number of personalities, alter egos and of course clones over the years. This is me here in my pre-natal state along with my other clone brothers and sisters. And here is the first generation of a Nalts’ Clone. As you might have guessed he didn’t quite make it. Unfortunately, he was unable to grasp the finer points and magic of editing and fell into a very tragic incident involving a can, the local trash collector and the very large trash collector’s truck. Since, much progress has been made and as you can rightly read I am one of the current generation ‘CloneofNatls’. However, we do prefer being called ‘Spawnsof Nalts’. We have advanced far more than the initial copy, even though we still titter on lame.

As a copy and a real live SpawnofNalts it is my position to make sure that anything Nalts does or thinks when indisposed makes its way to the beautiful eyes of his darling readers, fans, lurkers and all the rest of you, ASAP!

Tomorrow (July 9), on NBC’s Today show in a segment called “Frustrated Fliers.” The interview was shot in NYC yesterday and prompted by “USAIR Sucks” and not “Crawling Through Airport.” See if you can spot the original Nalts at the airport. If not, enjoy these little vignettes to make up for the possibility of a brown out we predicted in NYC. If you missed it because you just couldn’t drag your lazy ass out of bed before 11am, you know who you are, and barring some possible genetic or technical malfunction, me and all the other SpawnsofNalts will try our best to accommodate Today the day after yesterday or sooner right here!

Oh, and bring a clothes pin!

Nalts at the airport Today!

Be glad smell-a-vision never took off!


EepyBird Planning Mentos & Diet Coke Geyser in NYC on Saturday (7.7.7)

Thanks to help from a friend at Coke, the Atlanta-based company will be turning out at the NYC Meetup with EepyBird (the duo made famous for their elaborate displays of Mentos & Coke fountains. They will showcase a geyser display at about 1:30 EST at Washington Park Square (near NYU). It’s part of a number of different informal events that will roll out in the coming days. Visit for more details. You can also call 866-YTMEETS to reach people and find out where the crowd has landed.

8 Wishes for Online Video

Paul Sanchez — biker, video junkie, PR machine, blogger, and maddman — has started an 8-wishes “tag chain” thingy. He’s asked me and other bloggers to post our 8 wishes and pass along the task to others. Parenthetically, Paul’s first wish was granted, as he recently interviewed Kinkos founder Paul Orfalea.

So let’s be clear that if I really had 8 wishes, they’d be focused around my wife and family, world peace, end of poverty and injustice, etc. However I’m focusing these strictly on online video.

  1. Amateurs develop niche audiences that can economically sustain themselves. That’s what this blog is about. Many of us make videos for fun, but would love to jump into it full time. Currently there are really only two ways to do that. Develop a tremendous following such that advertising (via sites that share ad revenue) sustains you. This is proving to be very difficult so far. The alternative is to develop serialized content and attract one or more sponsors. We’ve done a couple videos for Mentos (Sneaking Mentos into Theater and the recent Team Mentos with MediaMogirl). It would take a lot of these to cover my mortgage, but it’s a good start.
  2. Online video channels will compensate creators. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have almost guaranteed you that community would form around sites that shared ad revenue. This isn’t happening as fast as we all hoped. YouTube does not share advertising with creators, and sites like Revver, and Brightcove are only effective if you have your own audience. None of these sites draws traffic like the big boys. Metacafe has both ad sharing and traffic, but it’s fierce competition to get seen.
  3. Advertisers will hasten their shift from interuption marketing to engagement marketing. Instead of building campaigns that push product, I hope they’ll more deeply engage in social media. The EepyBird Coke deal is a great example. Coke paid the comedic duos, and then drove views via Google Video. Advertisers are starting to realize that the the 60-second spot is dead, and they need to let go of scripted messaging to be viable in a demand-driven content world where they can skip ads.
  4. Online video accessible via any box. I hope that in 2007 we see more power to the explosive collide of television and online video. YouTube and Revver have deals with Verizon, and there is no shortage of models that bring online video to cable, television, media centers and portable devices. The more this happens, the easier it will be for content creators to find audiences and audiences to find niche content.
  5. Niche channels form. There are many of us that create content that is not necessarily mass market. But there are groups of people that love specific niches. YouTube facilitates this connection via subscriptions. In the past week I jumped from 400 subscribers to about 1200 on YouTube and these are people that have self-identified as being interested in my style. Others can RSS my content, but there’s no easy way to turn on the boob tube and surf some of my videos. I hope there will be soon.
  6. The letter V will be removed from the alphabet. You have to have a stretch wish.
  7. The networks will support an online-video show. This will provide mainstream visibility to online-video creators that have interesting content but can’t sustain their own show. We’ll see an SNL-style show that features an assortment of short clips from regular content providers. I want to be one of ’em. Remember how the Simpsons got its start as a segment of The Tracy Ulman show.
  8. My 8th wish is for 8 more wishes. Is that allowed?

Wanted: New Marketing Skills for 2007

There’s a fairly new skillset required of marketers as sponsored, user-generated video takes shape this year. Historically, marketers are trained to listen to the customer, shape the messages, and manage the agency to achieve “reach, frequency and single-minded propositions.” Rinse. Repeat.

Along comes viral video. At first, marketers sit on the sidelines. They watch. Then they decide to get in the game, and they have agencies produce faux viral. In some cases it takes off, but it mostly fails. The next evolution involved partnerships between creators, brands and new media channels. Recently Coke did a promotion on YouTube where it paid ‘tubers to make short Christmas videos (no mention of Coke required) and send them to friends. They also sponsored EepyBird in another Mentos/Coke video, and paid them reported 6-figures and put significant media dollars behind it.

evolution.jpgSo what’s next? Yesterday I spoke with a product director of a well-known consumer brand. He wants to sponsor videos that mention his product, and he’s ready pay a fee for the video. We’ve been communicating for months and he approved my first video with some minor changes yesterday evening. Then MediaMoGirl pitched him and his boss on a new idea we’re planning to shoot this weekend. Let’s just say it involves me wearing spandex and leave it at that.

Here’s what struck me about the way these two marketers were handling our conversation. They stepped back and exhibited an incredible faith in our creativity. They didn’t push us to insert brand messages, and they didn’t even treat us like an agency. It was like watching a parent give a child some room to be as weird as they wanted. The feedback we received was subtle. All they really wanted from the video is for it to appeal to their target market, and have full transparency that they sponsored it. The VP stepped off the call to FedEx a box of product to MediaMoGirl to use as props. I was blown away by this dialogue.

At Johnson & Johnson I took some classes by former Procter & Gamble guys that taught how to manage and lead creative agencies. They made you spend a night creating a commercial, and then have it deconstructed by the class the next day. You got to feel how feedback (good and bad) is received, and you’d never, ever manage the creative process the same way again.

In 2007 we’ll inarguably see more consumer-generated content. Unless marketers “buy their way” to the game, they’ll have to embrace it with some faith. Instead of squeezing it to death and forcing messages, they’ll have to let the creators take them slightly off message. I’m going to argue that’s a fairly new skillset for an agency, much less a traditional marketer.

Coke & YouTube Team on “WishCast” vGreetings

renetto.jpgWant to send someone a holiday video right from Famed YouTubers like Geriatric1927 or Renetto?

Coca-Cola is sponsoring a viral video “wishcast,” through which you can send a YouTube video (some are personalized by creators, and others are classic Coke ads). To my knowledge, it’s the first large-scale combination of eGreetings and videos… hence the name vGreetings. See for more details, or visit

When I initially learned about his, I was expecting some of the YouTubers to be hawking Coke. Instead, they were given freedom on their message. And, of course, you can send some of the vintage Coke ads like the animated polar bear.

scarysanta.jpgAlthough nothing beats falling asleep next to the fire by the soothing songs of Renetto. Is it just me or does he go unnaturally long between blinks?

Too bad Coke didn’t ask me. I’d have given them my “Scary Santa.” I think it would have been popular with the parents trying to terrify their kids.

Coke Embraces Mentos Fad for the First Time

eepybird.jpgIn a marketing decision that always perplexed me, Coke spent the better part of this year distancing itself from a cultural wave involving its product… the geysers resulting from mixing Mentos mints and Diet Coke. The Mentos team jumped on it almost reflexively — running ads behind the famed ads via Revver and initiating a Mentos Geyser contest on YouTube.

In a surprise move, Coke has stopped running… and has even embraced the Diet Coke and Mentos wave. Coke announced a new “Poetry in Motion” video contest behind a teaser video of EepyBird’s next experiment. The trailer for EepyBird’s “Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments II” video (due October 30) can be seen on Google Video, followed by a video ad that has an embedded hyperlink taking viewers to this Coke contest site. The contest is in prelaunch mode, but will invite individuals to submit videos that involve ordinary objects turned into something interesting.

Pictured here are the creators of EepyBird, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz. The experiment II looks like it will be a visual feast far surpassing their original work. The duo– who made a small fortune via Revver — are now serving their videos at EepyBirdy Google Video with a Coke promo and hyperlink. Presumably they’ve cut a handsome deal with Coke (I’m guessing it approaches six figures since they made at least $50K on Revver from the first experiments).

I’m surprised that Grobe and Voltz aren’t more dynamic in this ad. I expected the improv team to show some fizz, but they’re surprisingly flat. Still- Kudos to EepyBird for extending its 15 minutes of fame, and to Coke for demonstrating adaptive marketing. The best kind.