The Future of Technology (as seen by Tom Selleck and AT&T in 1993)

Imagine sending a fax from the beach via a computer, or using a payphone to say goodnight to your child… from another timezone.

Tom Selleck provides the voice for this 1993 AT&T "we will" prediction campaign. It's as close to accuracy as a Michael Crichton novel, even if AT&T didn't pull anything off... besides dropped iPhone calls.

It was all part of AT&T’s WE WILL campaign, and remarkably accurate in its general predictions. But unfortunately we’re not sure the telecommunications company pulled any of these off. Hey- at least they were thinking.

Hey AT&T. Where's my Rosie Jetson?

Today’s Stars in Pre-Fame Television Commercials

A slightly younger and thinner Jack Black pitches Pitfal (the 10-pixel video game)

It’s hard for stars to hide from cheesy pre-fame television commercials when there’s YouTube, right?

Let’s enjoy a few of their early advertisements, which I’ve spent most of New Year’s Eve compiling for you (winner that I am)

  1. Jack Black doing Pitfall! (best ever)
  2. Lindsay Lohan in a Jello commercial in around 1996
  3. Keanu Reeves doing Kellogs Corn Flakes in 1980s.
  4. Seth Green doing a Nurf ad in 1992 (my favorite)
  5. Dick Van Dyke for Kodak film
  6. Greg Benson’s montage before Mediocrefilms/RetardedPoliceman fame
  7. Ronald Reagan Chesterfield cigarettes (photo not video)
  8. Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) in Burger King ad
  9. Tom Selleck sponsoring Right Guard
  10. Brad Pitt in Pringles ad (shirtless of course)
  11. Dave Spade and Chris Farley doing DirectTV (not exactly pre-fame)
  12. Jack Benny doing Texaco (too early of a reference for ya?)
  13. Leonardo DiCaprio doing Bubble Gum ad in 1988
  14. Ben Affleck doing Burger King delivery
  15. John Travolta doing a Safeguard soap commercial and promoting Tokyo Drink in this 1980s commercial (obviously he had already established some fame by then)

And two bonuses. Some actors better known for their television commercials than film or television careers. And David Letterman as a pre-talk-show weatherman.

Sources: Commercial Breaks (AOL), LiquidGenerationTube,

What We Can Learn from Most-Viewed Videos of 2010

What can we learn from the most-viewed “viral” videos of 2010? How are they similar and different from years past?

First, let’s take a look at the run-down, courtesy of YouTube and ReelSEO, here’s the list. YouTube has a new trend blog/website that’s worth bookmarking or RSS’ing: YouTube Trends.

  • The BED INTRUDER SONG! (a news clip turned into a meme with help from schmoyoho
  • TIK TOK KESHA Parody: Glitter Puke – Key of Awe$ome #13 (another Next New Networks hit)
  • Greyson Chance Singing Paparazzi (a 6th grader with Justin Bieber-like cut, featuring shaky handheld camera)
  • Annoying Orange Wazzup (Daneboe’s facial fruit was spurred to amazing popularity in 2010… note that since Daneboe launched Annoying Orange’s own channel early in 2010, the collection has been viewed nearly 400 million times… giving him more views than this entire top-10 list).
  • Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (hey a commercial- see what does the author of Beyond Viral know?)
  • Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10 (the dude trips out seeing two rainbows)
  • OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine version (Okgo, the treadmill band does it again)
  • THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE – Trailer (really? a trailer?)
  • Jimmy Surprises Bieber Fan (Jimmy Kimmel is handling his old/new media balance quite well- check out the girl get a visit from Bieber)
  • Ken Block’s Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l’Autodrome (this is the only one I hadn’t seen- a racing car… snore). Speaking of videos I haven’t seen (even the “Viral Video Genius” can’t see them all), did you see Cookie Monster audition for SNL? If Jim Henson was alive, SNL would be auditioning for The Muppet Show.
  • So what are the common themes?

    1. Nothing sells like a song (most of the top-10 all-time most viewed YouTube videos are songs).
    2. Quirky is still nice — whether it’s manufactured (Annoying Orange) or authentic (Double Rainbow)
    3. Viral is increasingly a symptom of offline popularity (Kimmel/Bieber/Lady Gaga/Twighlight)
    4. The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 is that professional & commercial content trumped user-generated videos, with only one true exception (the Double Rainbow).
    5. With the exception of Daneboe (Annoying Orange) and Schmoyo (AutoTune the News), none of these really spawned a new person or channel.
    6. Production quality mattered more this year than years past. Which is why we amateurs need to up our game (see my new ShootLikePro blog).
    7. Note that the top-ten list excludes major record labels, or they would dominate list. YouTube has increasingly become a free visual jute box.

    How is this list similar or different from 2007, 2008 and 2009?

    1. Commercials are still the exception not rule. This year’s popular advertising campaign/commercial was Old Spice, and last year it was Evian’s roller skating babies. I referred to the latter in my book as the “exception to the rule” that promotional videos don’t often go viral. Even though this is increasingly true, 2011 to spawn some Old Spice knockoffs nonetheless. Hopefully a few brands and agencies will try a “road less travelled” with better odds.
    2. Both 2009 and 2009 lists had a Twilight trailer. Again- this says less about online video as the fact that the films are extremely popular.
    3. Last year’s “double rainbow” was the quirky “David After the Dentist,” now at 75 million views (that’s almost half of the views I’ve garnered on my entire collection). Hopefully we’ll continue to rally around odd moment like these.
    4. As the medium matures, we’ve seen fewer “quirky” amateur clips than, say, 2008 when we had viralizations like Fred, “Christian the Lion” and ImprovEverywhere’s “Frozen Grand Central.” The memes of 2007 were even more interesting to me — from The Landlord and “Leave Britney Alone” to Obama Girl (Next New Networks) and the South Carolina Miss Teen USA clip
    5. Last year’s kid singing Paparazzi was a more choreographed wedding video (Forever). People love an amateur singer overnight success story (Susan Boyle).
    6. Almost all of the top-10 popped on YouTube. The world’s second-largest search engine remains the most vibrant channel.
    7. The teen factor is still driving views, even if each year offers content for a broader demographic.

    Each year the top 10 most-viewed hits are a smaller percent of overall views… it’s the long tail effect. Finally, do you notice anything missing for the first year in a while? No SNL Digital shorts… or sadly, anything from The Onion, College Humor or Funny Or Die.

    Okay now go buy my book, or tell a journalist to interview me for a delightful year-end segment on viral videos.

    Beyond Viral: Everything About Online Video You Were Afraid to Ask

    Hire Rhett and Link Or I’ll Punch You in the Neck

    I’m a big fan of Rhett and Link, the singing duo on YouTube who make sponsored videos that are so damned entertaining they hurt. It’s like watching MGM’s latest videos… I am both thrilled for them and ready to hang up my hat.

    Rhett and Link Make Advertising More Interesting Than Life

    I’ve blogged about them dozens of times, featured them in my book, and recently noticed that their views for sponsored videos rivals their views of “normal” videos on YouTube. Could you have guessed years ago that a fairly unknown duo doing mostly musical commercials would garner a regular following that exceeds many non-sponsored performers?

    So how do these two turn promotions into candy coated, juicy filled delights? There are many correct answers, but I believe there’s one best answer.

    It’s not their talent, creativity, music, comedy or filmmaking skills. It’s because they have earned the right to convince a client to give them creative freedom. I’ve NEVER seen a Rhett & Link advertainment musical that wouldn’t delight me as a client. Damn this blog post sounds like a friggin’ advertisement for them, and I’ll admit I consider them friends (or at least I’ve got a fellow creator… with a fan crush). But I’m not on commission.

    This new pillow spot brings visual intrigue surpassed by few videos since “Mentos and Coke,” and combines it with a song that’s great on its own. 300K plus views just one day after launch, and nearly 10% of the viewers “liked” the video. These little hicks are modern day Mad Men who don’t have to buy their way to eyeballs, and they make it look effortless like an olympic gymnast. Want to know the real pisser? They’re laid back and cool. Combine these guys with MysteryGuitarMan and you’ve got a never-ending gobstopper of viral video fun… without a lick of pretension.

    Some gents enjoy their fine wine. Others a cigar or brandy. But this girl wants to savor the sweet symphony of music, creativity, amateur videography and blissful promotion. The Awl writes about the best songs written for commercials, and I propose that blog post redirect to Rhett and Link.com.

    What’s even more magical about this SleepBetter.org campaign is that it’s like entering Disney World. You just keep getting sucked deeper into the experience. My kids discovered it, and ran to my office insisting I search “2 guys, 600 pillows.” We watched it several times, and then gazed upon the “behind the scenes,” which was brilliantly placed back at SleepBetter.org. I was spellbound as I was reminded that a few of my 20 plus pillows are perhaps older than some of my children. And I will absolutely 100% purchase a pillow from SleepBetter.org, and this company — nameless to me 30 minutes ago — has now the reflected glory of this North Carolina duo. I’m beginning to wonder if Rhett and Link could sing a song that would make me want to eat dog food cooked from 7 owls. And frankly I think they could.

    “Dad can we buy the song on iTunes?” said daughter Katie from the other room. Did she really need to ask? Now my kids are discussing the lyrics… Julie McKnight.

    One of my favorites to play at conferences remains Taco Bell Drive Thru Folk Song, but Pillow rivals it and the AlkaSeltzer campaign. While shooting that AlkaSeltzer Cheesesteak video (in which I cameod) Rhett and Link sang a new version of the Nalts song written by MysteryGuitarMan. It’s quite beautiful (footage courtesy of Edbassmaster). Give it a listen and singalong.

    Top Viral-Video Advertisements of All Time

    Topping OldSpice and Evian, the most-viewed online-video advertiser is Blendtec, according to “The Top 10 Viral Ads of All Time,” by AdAge (AdvertisingAge) and VisibleMeasures.

    Seriously we’re not tired of it.

    Want to guarantee your video goes viral? Um, yeah, about that...

    Here’s the page on YouTube where you can sort videos and channels by most-viewed , most-liked, most-subscribed by day, week, month, all time. Find me a few advertisements on here and I’ll give you a piece of candy.

    I think I get the first copy of my book, Beyond Viral, in a week or less. The central premise is that it’s time for advertisers to stop pinning all their hopes on going viral. Leverage popular creators and channels. When the web was new we all scrambled to create the ultimate website for our target audience… now we’re back to advertising and public relations.

    With online video we can do a “Hail Mary” and maybe land on AdAge’s chart. Or we could sponsor a webstar and guaranteee a sizable audience without luck or paying for views.

    But they’re amateurs! They may say something bad. Yeah, no. You sponsor them and you get to review their videos before they’re live… and still I literally got a text yesterday from an agency friend who wondered who might produce a viral video for her.

    I wonder if archaic advertisers and marketers will blend? I mean I wouldn’t press the button, but if you could build a big enough blender… MAN that would go viral.

    Want Your Ad to Go Old-Spice Viral? You’re More Likely to Develop Abs Like Isaiah Mustafa.

    When I see my sweet AdAge pour more gas on the “Old-Spice goes viral” story, I feel like it’s time to remind my fellow marketers that they’ve got a better shot of developing (the shirtless actor) Isaiah Mustafa‘s abs than getting their TV or online-video spot viral.

    Your man will never look like me, and your video will never go as viral.

    This is another excellent example of the exception not the rule. Old-Spice’s dramatization is funny, slick, self-deprecating and memorable. Like other viral commercials, it stands out. It’s worthy of the 5 plus million views. But remember that people as obscure as me (nalts) with smaller audiences than me can fetch that each month. The one-hit wonder has given way to the webstars that are now building sustainable audiences, and they’ll promote your brand for less than it cost to groom Isaiah’s horse.

    Now ask your friends and family to tell you the last time they sent or received a link to a commercial. Not your buds in the agency and marketing circles, but your friend next door that doesn’t understand what the hell you do for a living.

    Television ads occasionally go viral, but viral is largely dead. We’re still seeing some twitches from the corpse, but the age of viral commercials will not see a resurgence. If you don’t believe me, read Beyond Viral when it comes out in a month or so (it’s already on Amazon, so I have bragging rights on that).

    Maybe after a few more Benson & Hedges and my pension, I'll hear this damned machine's alarm. Wait, never mind. I sold my hearing aid for my third Scotch.

    Now you read this, but like an elderly, smoking woman in Vegas, you’ll still play the odds. That’s fine. Just don’t bet the farm, eh? And hedge the bet- step away from the roulette table now and then and try the nickel slots.

    New Disclosure & Transparency Code for Social Media

    Social media pioneers have long advocated honesty, disclosure, bacchanalianility, transparency and authenticity.

    Today the world’s most widely read blog that is called WillVideoForFood announced a new short URL you bloggers, social-media whores and YouTube stars can use conveniently… It’s as follows: http://bit.ly/TransparentWhore

    Sellout? Yeah I sellded owt beeatch so what ya gonna do?

    I probably ought to have come up with that code in June 2007 when I made this video featuring the fictional “CashToBuzz,” inspired by appauling businesses that would pay bloggers to review companies and products favorably. And yes, we were really chased out of a mall.

    Just remember kids… it’s only pimping if I’m not in on the deal. And it’s only wrong when you pimp opaquely. Or forget your bacchanalianility.

    You Suddenly Want a Mobile Home

    I didn’t think I wanted or needed a mobile home until I saw this. But I might just drive a few days to get one of these used, Cullman liquidation mobile homes… because of this absolutely candid, brilliant and real advertisement. Sure there’s a shot that looks like potential blood stains on a floor that are “covered up,”  but the hot chick, whip & vulture sounds, badass dialogue, and the chainsaw made up for that.

    Brought to you by the brillianty talented Rhett and Link, who keep raising the bar and jumping over it. And sponsored by Microbilt in what might be the most effective online-video campaign for a small business ever. Why? It’s entertaining. What other possible way could Microbilt reach people so broadly? Sure, only a small portion of them will be qualified Microbilt candidates, but with a net this size, you can have lots of holes in it… and still bring home some tuna.

    Put that on your brag book, Microbilt and Rhett & Link. You’re still bringing home some tuna. See more at ilovelocalcommercials.com, which is bound to catch some media attention buy (with Rhett and Link’s rapidly growing fan base) doesn’t need it. There’s a whole suite of them, and they’re sweet.

    Best Super Bowl Ads of 2010

    Last year my video roundup of the best Superbowl ads was seen more than 7 million times, so I kinda had to make a sequel. Since this year’s theme (for both aired videos and those banned) seemed to be about guys being gay or wearing underwear, it felt right to use “I Wear No Pants” (used in the Shazam Dockers ad and written by The Poxy Baggards).

    Want to see how the ads were rated? Check out USAToday’s Ad Meter, see Advertising Age’s Report, or watch them all at YouTube’s AdBlitz channel.

    KFC Racist Ad Goes Viral: Think Global, Act Global?

    Old adage is “think global, and act local” when it comes to marketing. But what if the Internet screws that up? What if a KFC ad that might be perfectly appropriate in Australia is offensive to Americans? Check Google analytics, Twitter search and “How Sociable” if you want proof of the damage.

    Even if you’re not putting your local commercials on the Intertube, you may want to think about how it might strike customers in other countries. Not as bad as accidentally naming your brand a word that means “shark penis” in Japan, but close.