Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just be shareworthy, and the world's attention is yours

Osocio has just announced the finalists for its Campaign of The Year award.

In the announcement, editor Marc van Gurp writes:

"The 20 nominees this year show us a remarkable evolution in social advertising. When I started blogging about this niche industry in 2005, most of the campaigns where print-only. The majority of the campaigns in 2010 are driven by online video. Digital and real-world interactivity, and social media, are growing fast. My prediction for 2011 is that these two will be the leading campaign instruments."

I wholeheartedly agree. If you look at the campaigns that really capture public attention these days, most of them are about making you part of the story. And it can happen in the real world, the digital world, and between both.

For example, just today on Osocio I covered the most recent phase of an Israeli campaign by Woman to Go. The first part was a real-life installment in the shop window of an upscale mall in Tel Aviv. Real live women, who appeared to be scared and abused foreigners, were offered for sale like products or pets.

Clients are constantly looking for broad coverage, and trying to buy it through traditional media. Instead, Woman to Go created newsworthy real-world content in a single location, and ended up being talked about globally.

In the latest installment of Woman to Go, they posted an online video of an anonymous man actually buying a woman from the storefront, and encouraged people to interact online by pressing a "dislike" button on the YouTube page.

It's a very simple formula, and one which combines the very oldest form of advertising — live performance — with the newest media channels. You see it in the (now tiresome) trend of flashmobs that are recorded and put online. Or when an actor brings the commercial to a bunch of unsuspecting victims. Or even when an advertiser pulls some really weird shit like this:

The important thing is that what used to be called a "publicity stunt" now often becomes viral content. And if you're only trying to raise awareness for a cause people can really care about, their automatic interest makes it all the easier to get out there.

Even traditional media can work this way, when you start thinking about focussed impact rather than direct reach.

This interactive bus shelter for Amnesty International Germany could actually track the eye movements of a person sitting inside, presenting the violent domestic abuse scenario only in the peripheral vision.

Could they afford to do this more than once? Did it function perfectly? Did it get vandalized?

Who cares? It got the message out, and made headlines around the world. And that happened because it was novel technology, and used a strong concept to draw attention to an important issue. If you document it and seed it correctly, it only really needs to work once.

So as I face yet another year of trying to help clients with shrinking ad budgets and great expectations for "social media", I hope I'll be able to do something different. Something shareworthy.

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