Many brands are getting turned on by the idea of creating a “conversation”. They then monitor that conversation as a way of finding out about the market and judging whether their marketing communications are working. One way to do this is to produce ‘click bait’ or more accurately ‘share/comment bait’ – video content that is going to be shared and commented on. So that’s catvertising, stunts and memes.
But due to the nature of social media its possible for these conversations to stray off topic. A case in point:
In 2008 Extended Stay Hotels pushed the boat out with this porn inspired ‘share-bait’ video. In the video a young white model licks all the things in a hotel room you would never want to lick including the toilet. The message, the hotel room is clean. Aside from the obvious stupidity of the advert – I didn’t know licking was the test of being clean – the way it’s shot very cleverly picks up on a style popularised by Vice. So it’s very meme-y, very social.
The video was definitely effective. But when you look for it on YouTube you’ll find it under the title ‘Nasty ass girl licking stuff in a hotel‘. And, when you look at the comments of the video, you’ll see it’s not started the kind of conversation that marketing practitioners would have promised. The top comment says it all: ‘I love this nasty bitch. I had a white bitch come to my house spill beer on the floor and slurped it up before. I was amazed. then after that I said fuck it and got my ass licked clean. 😉 loved it!’.
Fortunately for Extended Stay Hotels, the YouTube video cuts before it mentions their brand.
The result, they’ve made a video that is basically porn (available to anyone to watch). Created bigoted conversation in which the model is frequently described as a ‘whore’ and ‘nasty ass bitch’ with no effect on their brand at all. Put otherwise, they’ve made the world a slightly worse place and wasted their money in the process.
Somehow there are agencies which specialise in this and brands willing to pay them.