The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial: Part Two - Viral Advertising

Today we bring you Part Two of the ongoing Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial. Last time we went over radio. This week, we thought we'd share some helpful (and not so helpful) advice on creating The Viral.

The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial:
Part Two - Key Points of Creating Viral Advertising

Professors: Brandon Barr, Brent Hahn, Clayton T. Claymore, Jane Goldman, Alec Long, Justin Kirby and Åsk Dabitch (in no particular order.)

Sincere viral advice for those unfamiliar with sarcasm:

Chapter 1 - How to start your own viral agency:
Make sure you have a blokey name with ideally 3 letters like Jez, Mat, Lee, Dan, Asa, etc.

When launching include a very long list of clients that one of your mates have worked for once, or met, or sat behind on a bus.

If you haven't got any work or clients then tell everyone how wonderful you think other people's work is on viral email list, so that people think you are promoting your work.

If things aren't going too well then say you have just set up or about to set up offices in NYC, Tokyo or Reykjavik ...

If things are going really badly in your own country then tell everyone how well you are doing in another country - yeah we are getting a lot of work in NYC right now.

If you are making ends meet by doing banner ads or part time building work then say that you have offices worldwide.

Say you have a team of creatives before letting them know that you are claiming to represent them.

If you have no experience in this field then claim to be partnering with someone well known in this area even if you haven't told them.

If you're a mediocre production company that no one had ever heard of before, you too can get on your way to being in the TVC super league just by creating a sub-par viral.

Chapter Two - How to go about creating the ultimate viral that everyone will be talking about:

Production companies are thinking they are creatives - they'll do the script, the shoot, the seeding, and then just like creatives, forget to allocate realistic amounts for the budget.

When creating your viral ad be sure the concept has been rejected as not good enough for regular TV commercial. Or too wild for regular TV. Or too disgusting. As long as it's on the far end of the spectrum, you're good to go.

Be sure your brand sponsors the fantasies of blokes who obviously don't get out much or ideas that have absolutely no relevance to the brand and could easily be used for any other by simply replacing the logo at the end. Virals don't need to build on established brand equity.

Another cheap and easy idea is to get brands to sponsor a pole dancing club and webcast it. Tonight Tricia all the way from Essex performs courtesy of Wet Wipes.

Even if the client doesn't approve of the concept, run it anyway. They'll never visit the sites that it will end up on so, they'll never find out.

When selling the idea to the client, be sure to use the phrase "media-neutral." They'll dig it, big time.

Make sure the client signs off on the script and budget just before they leave the company although make sure you get paid before they do.

As for production quality, make sure you never dare to give your viral any sense of art direction or production value. Those things are reserved for media like TV. Everyone knows this internet thing isn't real media, anyway.
Chapter Three - Simple ways to be original and up the pass-a-long rate of your viral:
Your viral has to contain one or more of the following elements:
Grievous injury or death of a human
Grievous injury or death of an animal
Female nudity
Male nudity
Animal nudity
Foul language
A Transformers homage
Bad acting
Bad production
Someone vomiting
Animals acting human
Humans acting like animals
Homage/Spoof of another existing ad (your own or another brand)
Subservient ___ (Fill in the blank)
Created as a series
Bad music/bad singing
Sexy women with guns
Children with guns
Animals with guns
Men acting like total incompetent dorks
Drunken behavior
Apes (but call them monkeys - this goes double if they are chimps)
Destruction of property or inanimate objects

Chapter Four - Seeding your Viral:
When seeding your viral be sure to send it to every possible website you can think of, even if it's not related to the subject of the site. Claim your viral is the viral to end all virals. Tout your prowess at creating your masterpiece, even if it's crap.

After seeding your viral, make sure you send out a second email to a list nearly as large as the first, claiming that the public "bought it hook, line, and sinker"--and reinforcing that yours is the viral to end all virals.

Announce your work on an email list and if everyone ignores it then try and get the list owner to say how wonderful it is a few days later.

When first seeding your viral, however, you have to pretend you got the link from a pal and you have no idea where he/she got it. And don't forget to put that "FW:" in the subject line of your "seedmail."

Also, when directly confronted about your involvement in said viral, disavow any knowledge of it thereby "throwing people off" the thinly-disguised scent.

Announce a viral chart and then only show your own work on it.

If you have no experience in this field then pretend you are from an agency (preferably in the US) and send an email to every viral seed route you can find asking how much to help seed and track a campaign along with a schedule of suitable sites. Then compile the responses and present this to the client as your seeding strategy.

When punters get upset by your edgy viral, claim to have never approved it. If the spread starts to die down, proclaim loudly that you will sue those responsible for tarnishing your brand image to give the edgy film seed one more push.
Chapter Five - If you made it this far, here's some actual good advice:

Even though a viral is not traditional media, it still should build in some way on the brand's equity.

Be honest. Transparency is more appreciated than obscurantism.

Have a strategy.

When coming up with a concept, remember that it has to be different and intriguing enough for someone to want to pass it along to a friend, co-worker, etc. This doesn't always mean something sexual or destructive.

Remember your audience.

When attempting to seed your viral, remember that people don't give a rats arse about which group is tracking it.

Be careful when over-touting your viral. You might claim it to be fantabulous, but if it's not, people will find out very quickly...and it won't go any further than their trash.

Create a site or page on a site for viewing the viral. Many people aren't fond of downloading straight from their email to their computer - or they can't due to their policy and firewalls at work. Also have your viral available in more than one format (not everyone has Windows Media Player or Real Player on their computer).

Try to remember that the www is just that, world wide. If your target audience is little old ladies in Hastings who fancy bridge and smelly cheeses consider buying media in Hastings local Cheese & Bridge weekly, which will only set you back two bob and not offend cheesetarians who think bridge is a sin over in Tibet. But then, you'd be breaking the rule that all virals in your portfolio should make YOU more famous than whichever loser brand who let you have a go at 'creating some buzz'. ;)

Try and remember advertising basics. Be Honest. Don't insult your Target. And as usual, if all you have is a hammer - every problem looks like a nail. Selling ovulation-timers to couples trying to conceive with sexist frat boy humor obviously won't work - and don't defend such a crap idea with the usual digits of how many frat boys pass funny films around on the web either. The beauty of the internet is all the interconnected networks, including networks of childless broody couples who like to pass information to each other. The big promise of the web is the ability to truly target your market with a bullseye - the most common mistake of the web is that advertisers don't even try. See : spam.

Missed a tutorial? No biggie. Check them out here:
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part One: Radio
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Two: Viral Advertising
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Three: Art Direction
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Four: Holiday Ads
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial: Part Five - Account Executives
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial: Part Six - Creating TV commercials

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