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.

Fish Video Surprises Creator

If anyone tells you they know what will go “viral,” they’re lying. We all know the general rules: short, comedic, shocking, funny, sexy. But even those of us immersed in this space are surprised about what we think will go viral (like “Filthy Little Lemon” or “YouTube is My Wife“) and what viewers actually like.

COOL FISHYesterday I took my camera to the New Orleans Aquarium, but decided I didn’t need another home movie of a field trip. My mom noticed I wasn’t shooting, and pointed out the sting rays that swam above our heads. I was charmed by the sting ray’s funny face, since we don’t usually see the bottom of a sting ray. So I began to collect footage of fishes moving their mouths. I thought it would be fun to have them all singing.

As I looked over the footage, I was memorized. And since I’m on vacation, I don’t have the time or equipment to make a song for the fish. So I opted to compress the video to two minutes, and play it aside Kevin MacLeod‘s soothing piano music. I really liked it, but was pretty sure viewers — who expect comedy or kids in my video — would be turned off.

Then I checked the vital signs today, and was rather surprised. See “more” below for the list to date.

So what’s the lesson? My marketing professor used to say “cows sell,” and I’d augment that with “so do fish.” But it’s also a reminder to create for yourself and not for the audience.

But lest I end on a meaningful note, let me remind you editors of other sites fed by TubeMogul (Revver, Metacafe, Yahoo Video, Viddler, Veoh, Brightcove, AOL Video) that the fish video is on your site as well! Just search “Nalts and Cool Fish.” 🙂

Continue reading “Fish Video Surprises Creator”