This is quite possible my favourite ad from this year.
You probably aren’t wondering why it’s my favourite ad – it’s all kinds of hilarious, great script, great timing, not to mention brilliant quotes (that I will now use whenever someone offers me chips) and it doesn’t hurt that it’s for a good cause.
But maybe you’re wondering why I have a favourite ad.
Something I’ve thought is quite interesting of late is that people now have favourite ads. I was talking to my perpetually nineteen-year-old flatmate the other day about the ad above – and then she told me about her favourite ad, which, honestly, stunned me. I have a favourite ad, because I’m interested in advertising. But she likes Hannah Montana. And a band called LMFAO. So why would she have a favourite ad?
Could it be due to a shift in the way we relate to brands – where it doesn’t matter that our likes, loves and lives are branded (and Coca Cola’s “Share a coke with…” campaign certainly doesn’t dispute this theory) or is it simply that we are now making better ads which are targetting it’s audience via YouTube, where people will share an ad with their friends because it is an effective ad?
It’s said that people don’t hate ads, they hate bad ads – so maybe it’s a case of survival of the fittest in this new media landscape? Advertising must connect with the target audience, who will then pass it on, in order to have an impact.
I think that if it’s the former and we have changed the way we relate to brands, then this most certainly is the perfect time for Facebook’s rollout of it’s verb-based buttons – where all our actions are now branded. But I’m not sure if this is the case – are we happy that brands are part of our identity?
I see this self-branding happening a fair bit with my work, as I see a lot of teenagers on twitter. One thing I’ve noticed with their handles, is that a large percentage of them have usernames which are identifying themselves as a a follower of a certain brand: whether that’s a “Justin Bieber’s Wife”, “Big Brother 4 Eva” or “Mac fanboi” – teenager’s identities seem to be branded more than they used to be. Or is that just being a teenager, and weaving things you love into your life however you can – since we’re not simply limited to putting posters on our walls?
What do you think? Is this just a case of a favourite ad? Or is this a shift in the way we see ourselves?
While the video views and celeb involvement from celebrities tweeting in will call this campaign a success from a numbers perspective, and the zany story arcs (including time travel) will definitely push it into meme-territory, I felt it really didn’t live up to expectations (and I’m not talking about Fabio’s awkward acting.)
I felt that this campaign very much dove into the “interactive fiction” realm – wherein the plotline could be dictated by the audience, with parallel stories which didn’t matter which order they were watched in, the only aspects which are concrete to plot are the beginning and end (and in the world of social media where videos are shared independently of each other, ideally, these aspects wouldn’t matter so much or would be easy to access).
However, this second Old Spice campaign didn’t quite pull it off in regards to linking relevant videos together, especially as the ‘related videos’ really wasn’t doing it’s job. I felt that in it’s execution it really struggled to create an easily consumed order to the videos, and it seemed more like putting the videos online in a short turnaround time was more important that any coherency for the audience.
I found it really hard to find the original challenge video and the response, which genuinely felt like I’d walked into a movie in the final scene. There was no promotion or hotlinks to the beginning of the challenge, and it very much felt like if you’d missed the beginning, it didn’t matter, because there’s not turning back now. And while there was a playlist created where the first three videos did reference the beginning of the challenge; it omitted the very first challenge-call by Fabio, which was part of an on-air advertising campaign in the States.
It took me a fair while of searching to actually find the Fabio videos, which didn’t come up as related videos organically, which also meant that challenges couldn’t be compared (for example, the very awesome “I challenge you both to see who can paint a portrait of a kitten with Old Spice body wash the best. Go!” (embedded below. ;)).
I was surprised there wasn’t a microsite to put challenge videos side-by-side, and even more surprised that there was little-to-no hotlinking between videos, and where there was hotlinking, it looked very much like an afterthought (and only on some videos – and not necessarily on each pair, and hotlinks in different videos had different information – some linked to voting, some didn’t).
It was also very hard to tell which videos had both an Old Spice Guy version and a Fabio version, or which ones were standalone because of this lack of navigation between videos.
I understand that the power of this campaign was in the user interactivity and the somewhat stunning production turnaround time of the video creation, so I understand the shortfall when it came to the usability design.
However, as this is one of the most successful versions of a new kind of interactive fiction, I think it’s a pretty disappointing. There’s a beginning, a whole stack of rich paths to find in the middle, and an end. But finding that beginning, end, or even two related videos in this rich middle is a fair struggle.
I think that having a strategy around adding hotlinks at the end of each video really could have made this a lot more successful. Having the consistant information across each video would have made it a lot easier to navigate, such as ‘see the original declaration of war’, ‘see the related challenge’ and, possibly ‘vote on twitter here’.
I think it would also be great to have something to cement the longevity of it, such as ‘see the winner here’; or as a placeholder prior to the winner being announced, ‘see the winner announced on youtube.com/oldspice on the [date]‘. A link at the end of each video to ‘check out all of eg. Fabio’s videos’ could have also have created a lot more organic traffic, or, even a more effective video tagging on the YouTube videos.
I think it’s a really interesting time for experiments in storytelling across mediums, but I think that we need to set the bar a little higher when we consider the organic nature of sharing on social media and that context is robbed from a video when it is shared on Twitter or Facebook, which, I think, needs to be somehow reintegrated into the standalone products.
Maybe this integration wouldn’t work best as hotlinks; but as a cue, whether it’s a line in a script, a title bar in the video or even in the background graphic of YouTube channel, we need to consider the consumption of these videos both as a whole piece in it’s long-form story arc and also individually in it’s episodic components.
I’d like to think that Old Spice paves the way for more campaigns and storytelling of this kind, however, I’d hope that future stories also learn from what’s missing from a navigation or user-experience perspective.
So, if you missed it, here’s an overview of the whole story arc, which I haven’t seen anywhere on the web yet. Do check out the exceptionally acid-inspired ending to the finale – it’s pretty awesome.
I think it’s been really interesting that over the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk (well, who am I kidding, a lot of memes) about Rebecca Black. Her YouTube clip Friday went viral, resulting in fame in just three short months, which includes being invited to making an appearance at the MTV O Music awards.
I want to discuss is the difference between Rebecca Black’s rise to fame, and Jessi Slaughter‘s infamy. Both of whom have become memes online – but Rebecca has a recording contract, while Jessi’s father has faced criminal charges as a result of his daughter’s online infamy. How did these end up on such different paths?
I believe a key difference in the way that these two entered the online stage, and responded to their new audience was, simply what I will call “online literacy”: understanding how and why online culture works, and knowing how to work it. I’m not saying 13-year-old Rebecca has a magic formula to making videos viral – I’m saying that when the internet did pluck her from anonymity, her response was to play smart and cash in. 11-year-old Jessi responded in the way an 11-year-old would to harassment, but unfortunately, antagonized the wrong people because she didn’t really understand the implications of what she was doing. (Obviously, due to her age, which I will discuss shortly).
Rebecca Black understood how to play the online game. Her family paid a production company to create a YouTube video for her, so she placed herself on the online stage in a very formulated way*. While the video is made a mockery of, she’s a girl who made a decision to make a lame video, and she’s standing by it, playing cool, saying the “haters don’t bother her“. Jessi Slaughter, however, stumbled into the online world, making YouTube videos from the perspective of an eleven-year-old to a small online community, lashing out at anyone who attacked her. The result was that the online community, in particular, 4Chan, believed this girl needed to be taught a lesson in manners, which translated in to a string of real-world pranks. Jessi’s family, however, don’t understand this online culture, nor were they aware what her daughter was doing online. They didn’t understand how to use the internet, nor why they were being attacked, exhibited in the meme-tastic, “We’ve called the cyberpolice”. In fact, even as the family were being interviewed by media about the harassment and police intervention, Jessi’s mother still had no idea that her daughter had even made online videos.
One of the biggest issues here, is that the most naive members of our society, are also the most information rich regarding this new form of media. We have eleven-year-olds who can make videos for the world to see, more fluently and faster than people in their twenties, thirties, fourties, fifties. The response to try to combat young people using technology has been to lock social networks down for kids under 13, such as Facebook. Cyberbullying help buttons on Facebook have been implemented in the US but the reality is that there are more than enough online communities for preeteens to explore outside of these places, which are unmonitored.
The issue is that adults are aware of some of the dangers of the online world, especially those of a predatory nature, but don’t understand enough about navigating the online space to encourage or support healthy relationships with people online, including strangers such as people on forums, on twitter, in chat rooms, on chatroulette. All of the cyber safety information I see is about ‘what if someone tries to friend you on Facebook’ and completely overlooks the literacy needed around conversing with online-only friends in all these other spaces, or even, what is really the case with these teens, online reputation management.
Schools will palm it off to parents. Parents will palm it off to teachers. The reality is, that in general, both these groups are as likely to be as confused as each other.
It’s funny, that for a piece of technology which has grown so quickly as part of our everyday lives, there is a vast number of people who still really have no idea how to use it – my favourite example being Read Write Web’s ‘Facebook Login redesign article saga‘, it beg the question – what if we were allowed on the roads without driving lessons?
We need to recognise that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the basics of how the internet works and are forced to learn on the fly. However the nature of the internet is that these interactions are in a public space and people make mistakes which most of the time, no one cares about. But in the case of teens like Jessi Slaughter, public mistakes can lead to some very serious consequences.
What do you think? How should be address the lack on online literacy in our communities? Schools? Parents? Community-based workshops? Training manuals which come with new computers? Or, would a great big internet delete button be a better approach during people fumbling about on the internet? Let me know – I’d love to begin to seriously think about way to challenge this issue.
*Interesting, one of the other girls in the Friday video has also received harassment online from her role. See how well presented her response is (Y’know, despite her ramblings about Justin Bieber, her braces and her driveway length in the middle)?
So when Buzz came out as a competitor social network to Facebook, a few people were cynical about it’s reach – as Facebook has such massive numbers and Buzz is limited to people who have Gmail accounts.
But Google also owns YouTube, which has, I’m sure we all know, a pretty massive audience.
I was wondering if Google would pull the YouTube members across to Gmail and then use that to get them into Buzz.
I’m not sure if this is the first steps in doing that – what do you reckon?