Who is the Target Lady?

Maria Bamford helped turn our anxiety about the holiday rush into a playfully self-aware celebration of the insanity we call Black Friday.

Target’s Black Friday campaign staring Maria Bamford spawned loads of “word of mouth,” and captured AdAge’s attention by ranking #2 on the AdAge Viral Chart with more than 1.5 million views in a week. Sure that’s still far below my definition of “viral video” (I’m thinking the new definition is 4 million views in a few days). But the campaign, by Portland, Oregon agency Wieden & Kennedy, clearly has become more than a 2010 footnote. Here’s Target Lady’s highlight reel, which culminates in the fantastic shot of her running through target wearing a parachute to slow her down.

Naturally Steve Hall (AdRants) hate’s it, but TV Critic Roger Catlin gave it a “an hail Target ad lady Maria” review. AgencySpy was most impressed with the Rocky IV tune. But the real surprise, to me, was when my wife said: “wait- look at this…everyone’s raving about it on Facebook.” According to ClickZ, some sponsored ads fueled that Facebook fire.

Click here to see YouTube’s Target collection, ranked by most-viewed.

Some of these spots are good enough to stop you from fast forwarding TiVo. Maria Bamford has a wonderfully crazy and self-deprecating style that makes even ME feel sane. She’s not new to Target — check out her subtle “Target” reference in this video from years ago (below). She’s funny in standup (effinfunny.com), but translates even better to web video and was a perfect fit for this wonderfully insane Target campaign.

I hope to see her back, since I think she’ll appeal to Target’s target customer. We’ll still need our “cool” target ads, but this is distinctive and fun, and a refreshing departure from me-two department store ads (wow we’ve got deals… zzzzz). I could honestly see the Target Lady pulling a mini Old Spice video-reply campaign with personalized videos… the mad rush for holidays is far from over, but there’s not likely time for a new campaign. Hey Wieden & Kennedy- if she’s answering questions I’d like to know how many cups of coffee she drinks a day and how many hours of sleep she gets. I’d also savour, like fine wine, some behind-the-scenes outtakes from the commercial shoot.

If you like Target Lady, write WK agency (contact information) or be sure to write Maria’s mom. Mothers need affirmation sometimes, and maybe she’ll let Maria out of the attic to reward her. Or heck, pick up a piece of no-soap made by her dad.

How Will The Mainstream Laggard Audience Navigate Online Video?

maria sansone\'s showI originally titled this blog post, “PopTub: Does it Suck or Rock.” But then I realized PopTub is about a bigger issue. But first, let me set the context. Last Friday I wrote a post about PopTub and said I wanted to appear on it. Today that wish came true (see below). Now I just have to figure a way to appear on The Office, visit Hawaii and Australia, and meet Gene Hackman or Charles Grodin (a few more items on my “bucket list“).

Turns out I’m not the only fan of PopTub, but there are also quite a few that have a visceral, negative reaction. Perhaps the show is, for them, a personification of the commercialization of YouTube… a pretty host, good production values, sponsored by Pepsi, and Google supported.

From my perspective, there are 3 ways to react to what is inevitable: YouTube’s transformation from a video-sharing community to a major media player:

  1. Wine profusely. Blame anyone you can. Especially a person since YouTube will ignore you.
  2. Leave the site (returning to television, or diving into vloggerhead).
  3. Embrace the change, and grow with it.

The target for PopTub long term, I’d argue, is NOT hard-core YouTubers (as defined by how much time we spend and how participatory we are). The long-term target should be those who want to engage more deeply in online video, but are overwhelmed by the choices. This hosted format is something mainstream “lagards” (late comers) recognize. Indeed it’s Entertainment Tonight for the noobs joining YouTube.

PopTub is starting by calling attention to amateurs. And if  you’re an amateur, you only have a few ways to get discovered by a typical “grazer” of YouTube (namely, read my free eBook, get featured, or end up on the “top rated” section). Now there’s PopTub.

This mainstream crowd doesn’t have the knowledge or time to spend days and weeks learning the top creators and tricks for finding good stuff. The “grazer, laggard, noobs,” jump to YouTube because they received a link or because they’re searching for something specific. And then they boogie. YouTube is getting better at being a Venus Fly Trap for these folks, but it’s still not there yet.

Friends, the “top rated” section of YouTube proves that the “wisdom of crowds” doesn’t actually work yet on YouTube. The top videos are usually a video game video, an advertisement that spammed its way there via ViralVideoVillian.com, political propoganda, or one of a few amateurs that have such psychotically loyal fans (Sxephil, Whatthebuck) that they’d rate 5 stars a video of their poop gettig smeared on the wall.

Along comes PopTub with a bubbly host and a bunch of screenagers that are paid to scour the web for good videos. These folks even surf the “most recently added” section to find some of their pix (I’d rather work on Excel sheets). Who’s got time for that? I view it as a free service to help me find content that sucks less than my own.

So I see PopTub as another way for noobs to find good online-video content, and I welcome that service. We may not like all the videos it discovers, but I’ve found more creators via PopTub in the past weeks than I’ve found on featured videos in the past year. Don’t like the picks? Let ’em know.

And of course I’m not paid by PopTub for this (I never blog for compensation, and my sponsored videos are always indicated as such). I’m probably not unbiased because PopTub has features a few of my videos. But I co-hosted voluntarily beacuse I dig the show, and wanted to meet the producers and Maria Sansone. I even kidnapped her, you know.



Maria Sansone Made me a Yellow Pages Video

PopTub host is gaga over NaltsSo in this recent video discussing amateur versus pro content, I mentioned Maria Sanson. “Maria Sanson… she could read the yellow pages and it would amuse us.”

Showing that someone has either read “How to Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” or is a quick learner, Sanson replies almost immediately with this piece. Stay for the whole thing, and dream the rest.

Someone find out if those Spas are in NYC. And if they are, Maria… when are we doing a collaboration video?

P.S. Sxephil and I got a note from YouTube explaining the pro/amateur content, and about how they’re neutral. It seems that if these pro creators are getting high visibility it’s because they have sponsors paying for premium placement or they’re just plain good like PopTub. Wait… I can do better than that for the PopTub press release: “PopTub is the best thing that’s come to YouTube since me.”