A few short years ago, a small digital agency called Webchutney stunned (and entertained) India with a series of short, animated viral videos.
And in doing so, they screwed us all.
Webchutney had made us all – advertisers and agencies – believe that:
- Viral means viral film.
- Viral film means animated viral film.
- Animated viral film means Bollywood spoof – Sholay, DDLJ, Ghajini, what have you.
Dreams were coming true all around. Copywriters got TVC scripts that were rejected for being too insane animated and turned them into spoofy virals. Clients were happy to shell out Rs. 500,000 for a viral that would run forever (complementing a Rs. 5,000,000 TVC that would run for a month).
But then every viral started to look the same.
Naturally, effectiveness began to drop. I’ve stopped forwarding most of these animated virals. As have many friends and colleagues.
They’re simply not cool any more.
But clients don’t get it. And agencies are at fault for continuing to propagate a dying fad.
Clients today believe virals should be cheap and spoofy. So when we develop ideas that require great production, and therefore cost more, it’s a really tough sell.
When clients ask for virals, they mean films. Whereas the true meaning of a viral is something that is passed along from user to user. It could be an engagement idea. A micro-site. An e-mailer. A joke.
Somewhere I feel we’ve failed to realise the potential of Internet virals. As we continued to churn out clone after clone, we were just left behind.
Western agencies realise the true nature of Internet virals. They don’t treat them as callously as we do. Even when they’re thinking of viral films, they think of ideas for great films – not ideas for animated movie spoofs. They produce them beautifully. They seed them actively. They realise and tap into the human desire to share something memorable.
Here are some of 2009’s top virals, as collated by Mashable.
- Inspired Bicycles: A stunt-riding video
- Schweppes – Signs: A sweet little love story
- Boone Oakley: An ad agency that did it’s website as an interactive YouTube video
- VW Piano Stairs: The video of an ambient media innovation, showing how beautifully a case study can be presented
- Samsung Omnia HD: An engagement and a viral all rolled into one
- MSI Computers: A kick-ass (pun intended) product demo
To reinforce the facts, here’s how our virals fare against those listed above:
|Viral||Date Posted||Hits (as of 15th April 2010)|
|Pankaj Udaas||30th August 2008||15,964|
|Thakur Ka Inteqam||14th August 2007||462,335|
|Dilwale Dulhaniya Kaise Le Jaayenge?||21st May 2008||4,389|
|ICICI Prudential||10th October 2008||2,410|
|Reliance Sawaal||13th May 2008||3,032|
|ADAG||31st January 2008||118,559|
|OK Tata Bye Bye||24th January 2009||14,088|
|Inspired Bicycles||19th April 2009||16,801,063|
|Schweppes – Signs||29th January 2009||4,391,312|
|Boone Oakley||28th May 2009||912,524|
|VW Piano Stairs||7th October 2009||11,661,969|
|Samsung Omnia HD||7th April 2009||1,242,421|
|MSI Computers||10th August 2009||2,936,493|
Numbers don’t lie. Even when you take into account Internet penetration, the difference in proportions (and the time taken to go viral) is staggering.
Webchutney moved on long ago. It’s time the rest of us – clients and agencies – follow suit.