While viral videos can draw in an audience for next to nothing, marketing execs shouldn’t take the medium lightly. Despite the tiny production costs, marketers are actually doubling-down their bet with viewers when they employ viral vids. See, you’ve finally gotten us to pay close attention to your ad. We’re “engaged,” to use the buzz word. So release a lame video, and we’ll be thoroughly engaged in noting how much it stinks, and how lame you and your brand are for producing it.
Case in point is “Tea Partay,” the online video spirits maker Diageo produced to generate buzz for its new Smirnoff Raw Tea beverage. A friend of mine sent it to me a couple of weeks ago for a laugh. But I found the video, a rip-off of the famous SNL “Lazy Sunday,” so painfully corny and awful that I shut it off halfway. At the time I didn’t even realize it was hawking Smirnoff. But when I read on the way in this morning about Smirnoff’s marketing plan behind the video, I remembered it instantly, and I found myself attributing all the negative associations I had with it to Smirnoff and its new Raw Tea. The video was tacky, derivative, and lame. So yes, Smirnoff got its product in front of me. But because it came to me as entertainment, not a commercial, I’ll judge them all the more harshly. That, and I’ll be sticking with beer.