Editor’s Notes: Just Being Social
Have you seen Geico’s latest TV commercials? They each feature a short video clip reminiscent of some of the more puerile offerings on video-sharing Web sites like YouTube and DailyMotion, such as a weird guy making equally weird facial expressions and noises. The spots prod consumers to consider whether 15 minutes of their day could be better spent getting an insurance quote from Geico than wasted on the online equivalent of the boob tube.
I find that positioning a bit ironic given that the characters from a different line of Geico commercials, the maligned cavemen, might be taking up 30 minutes of consumers’ time in a new sitcom proposed for ABC’s fall TV lineup. While Geico will play no role in the show, the agreement between Martin Agency (Geico’s agency, which created the cavemen characters) and ABC does not rule out the insurance company’s ability to continue with commercials featuring the cavemen. And Geico has said it finds the idea of brand extension through TV programming an exciting development.
As with any form of entertainment, the value is in the eye of the beholder. Critics might pan a movie, while the public eats it up. Personally, I just can’t imagine watching a half-hour show dedicated to how cavemen cope with the modern world’s prejudices against them. But I’ll reserve full judgement until I see the pilot; who knows, I might find it as hysterical as a YouTube video of a wedding party recreating the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance scene.
And that brings me to the best part of social media: it’s viral. In the offline world, we call this member-get-member marketing. That wedding party “Thriller” video I just mentioned? I didn’t go looking for it, rather a friend forwarded it to me because she knew I’d love it. In turn, I sent it to a work colleague who wanted to share it with a friend of his. That’s four impressions without the creator having to do anything more than shoot the video and post it online.
So, what does online video have to do with the average direct marketer, you ask? Plenty, reports the Jewish National Fund (JNF), this month’s cover story (starting on page 28). The charity, which doesn’t have a huge media budget with which to blitz its audience, recently capitalized on the enthusiasm of two young supporters who created a video to promote the JNF and its cause. Embracing the efforts of these evangelists, JNF included the video on its Web site and in its e-mail campaigns, encouraging visitors and members to pass it along. The endorsement has been influential in helping JNF attract new and younger donors—a good thing, given recent research from Target Analysis Group that cites a general decline in donor populations.