I found an interesting post on viral marketing in thereeladdict.com .

” I like the idea behind, but what I’m baffled about is the financial angle. I can’t really see this kind of approach actually wooing over any fence-sitters. Don’t get me wrong, viral marketing is neat in theory, if not in financial practice. It seems to be an intention on the part of studios to reward – in a high creative way – those who invest heavily in an upcoming release, catering to that investment by creating additional ways to immerse oneself in one’s own anticipation and the universe of the film. That’s exactly what makes no sense to me though. Let’s face it. I imagine most of the people who are getting involved with these campaigns are obsessive film geeks like myself. In other words, an audience that is pretty much a guaranteed ticket from the earliest stages of development of a film (like THE DARK KNIGHT). From a business point of view, what’s the point of investing money in catering to an audience that already wants to see your film?”

My comment:

Perhaps the problem is that viral marketing becomes an end in itself. We market to be talked about, but really at the end of the day, it’s all about whether the target individiual actually buys the service, product or idea. Buzz for the sake of buzz is just that, publicity and not really marketing. It’s hard to measure the effectiveness of a viral campaign, although I am led to believe that it can at the least increase traffic. If you increase traffic and have people talk about you, but you still don’t sell, then there must be something wrong in the marketing message in itself. All actors have a stage presence, but not everybody gets the Award. Just like on the net, you may have a presence, but it doesn’t always mean anything. For certain products or services too, they don’t start with the audience, consumer already liking the product — so viral marketing may be necessary. Also, it is quite important to tailor the campaign specifically to the product’s objectives and needs.

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I watched Be Kind, Rewind last Sunday, and I was surprised to see that this Jack Black movie actually had a lot of heart and good content. In the beginning of the movie I was not really amused to see the usual stupid-jackass-dumb and dumber type of jokes, but as the movie progressed, I found myself engrossed, and thinking about how this flick was actually a “viral marketing” flick — a classic example of how a business can go viral — how a business can become successful through word-of-mouth.

The movie moves around “Be kind, rewind,” an old-fashioned, yawn-inducing video store that barely gets customers. They even do some “guerilla marketing” and start painting graffiti on a wall under a bridge, claiming to have caught other taggers doing it when intercepted by the police. This move, a viral stunt that may be perceived as drastic, does not work.

Jack Black gets caught up in electrical wires and gets “magnetized.” (watch the movie to see how this happens) He goes to the store and erases all the content of the videos. They find this out when a depressive, crazy customer comes back and says that her Ghostbuster tape is empty. They come up with the ingenious idea to actually shoot the film and record on the ghostbuster tape, and have the customer think that that is the real ghostbuster movie. More customers come in and they are demanding movies, so Mike and Jerry do all they can to improvise, to fill in the blank tapes and keep business going – afraid of revealing the “tape erasure” to Mr. Fletcher, the owner of the video shop. See the trailer below so you have an idea of what I’m talking about:

The beautiful thing about the success of the Be Kind Rewind video shop is that it started from an innocent idea, meant to cover up a store anomaly. Mike and Jerry become an accidental production house and people end up loving their stuff. What cannot be missed here is that it all started with an ingenious idea. The put a name to the still nameless act of doing “a-la-carte” moviessweded. Who cares if it’s not a verb?

It spread like a virus on the small town of Passaic, New Jersey, and before you know it, they are being visited by enthusiastic patrons from as far as New York. What is interesting is that the act of making movies as requested, of putting the actual customers in the movies, is the same formula that online landslide successes that is used by youtube, digg and even wordpress. Power to the user. Power to the people. The users determine content and they are included in the content. Censors actually shut down the Be Kind Rewind “sweding”operation in the movie — the same way that user-generated sites are commonly set out to be manipulated by the internet giants. But they fight, and create their own movie. For us, by us. Written, produced and directed by the “Be Kind Rewind” community, it is a smashing success. Rightfully called smashing, because the building is “smashed” (destroyed) afterward.

The sweded video is the viral video. It was loved by the community in the movie with the same reason we are in love with youtube — we are part of it. We say what we want. We dictate content. Perhaps this is a point of reflection for viral marketers and web 2.0 ‘ers out there. If the consumer or customer is involved, and it is about them, and they have a say on what goes in your service or product — there is a greater chance that your product, service or idea will be bought.

Whether you are into viral or not, check out this movie anyway. Watching ghostbusters being remade by Mike and Jerry with hilariously funny techniques is worth it.

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