Kodak, originally known for still photography, transformed culture forever and set a precedent that would go on to last for over a generation. In 1891, Kodak released a transparent roll film, which inventor Thomas Edison used to develop the first motion picture camera.
Technical limitations often dictate a medium. Kodak’s film was created in the 4:3 aspect ratio. The decision by Edison to use Kodak’s film locked filmmakers and audiences into the 4:3 aspect ratio for over a century. Today, Instagram, with its release of IGTV, is following in Edison’s footsteps and solidifying a place in history for vertical video.
Who do you think has the top mobile payment app in the US?
Apple? Google? Maybe Samsung?
None of the above.
Of the 55 million Americans who used a mobile payment app this year, more than 40% will have done it on the Starbucks app.
It’s an amazing example of how a strong brand can drive technology adoption and new behaviors. Loyalty rewards, innovation and convenience brought the coffee shop into a technology leadership position.
But it’s not a strategy that can be readily copied.
Instead, it showshow far behind the US is in mobile payments. Starbucks’ brief dominance will be an interesting footnote in the march toward mobile payments as the shopping experience in the US is revolutionized. While the US struggles with chip credit card readers, we can see what that future looks like by looking into the crystal ball that is China.
Old Spice has done more for its brand appeal in the last week, double it in the last 24 hours, than any one could have imagined.
It all started with this:
12 million views since February.
Then, last week:
5.2 million views since June 29th, quickly becoming a social media favoriate. Then today… A surprise. It started on Twitter and quickly headed to Reddit, Digg, various blogs and beyond – The Old Spice Man was taking ‘requests’.
And boy, did he respond. Kevin Rose, Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen, Perez Hitlon, The Huffington Post, Gizmodo, GQ, Starbucks, a guy proposing to his wife (She said yes) and TONS of other ‘regular’ people. Old Spice Man had witty, in character, remarks for them all.
The target wasn’t just individuals but also communities, who similarly responded in droves. Over 2,000 upvotes on Reddit (A handful of Redditors got their question answer by The Man) and over 4,500 Diggs (The Man sent a sick Kevin Rose a get well video).
Viral marketing genius.
All it took was a simple set (Which I’m sure they still had from filming last weeks commercial), one actor doing one-take responses. Throw in a couple of writers and an intern or two monitoring Twitter / Digg / Reddit / Youtube to bring users into the fun and… boom! Success.
This wouldn’t have worked if the original videos hadn’t blown up like they did. Even though the first two did hit, the creators further ensured their success by employing a smorgasbord of viral plans into one Uber Viral; Foundation videos (the commercials), fresh content (the Man’s responses) and massive community outreach. A well coordinated attack with a little luck (having Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Rose and Ryan Seacreat Tweet about you – whose followers total 9.6 million – would cost a LOT of money). Finally, to really make sure this became huge, Old Spice was a sponsored trending topic on Twitter.
This is a two-way conversation done right.
A random user (aka the ad agency in disguise) wasn’t submitting to the various communities. It was The Man himself (Well, probably one of those interns, but still). It was cohesive, authentic, well planned, and most importantly – ENTERTAINING.
Todays success isn’t only helping Old Spice. Isaiah Mustafa, the actor who plays Old Spice Man, got over 600 new Facebook fans and 4,000 Twitter followers today according to FanPageList. The gift that keeps on giving. Isaiah is now a bonafide Internet legend. Where will we see him next?
Lets just hope Old Spice knows when to leave a good thing alone and not beat this into the ground.
In a striking display of the power of live video, Abraham K. Biggs committed suicide on Wednesday while broadcasting himself on video site Justin.tv. As we understand it from various forum posts, the 19-year-old Floridian was apparently egged on by commenters on Justin.tv and fellow forum users on bodybuilding.com. Biggs overdosed on pills while on camera and appeared to be breathing for hours until watchers realized he might be serious, at which point they alerted the police. The video kept running until police and EMTs broke Biggs’ door down and blocked the camera’s view.
But no, the Chatroulette video is not real. It’s sort of a… performance art piece. An extreme public prank which taps into the most profound unconscious motivator – death.
Mass audience trickery is nothing new. Orson Welles is the reigning king of the craft. In 1938 he read ‘War of the Worlds’ as if it were a live news broadcast. He held the nation captive as he described aliens from Mars descending upon New Jersey. Some were so convinced it was real that they fled their homes or holed up in their cellars. Guns loaded, of course.
Dorothy Thompson of the New York Tribune wrote of the event
“All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time. They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.”
Orson Welles tapped into our need to have collective public experiences. We want to be tricked. We want to be taken for a ride. Back in the 1930s this was accomplished with a few actors and sound effects. Because the technology of the time, radio, had never been used to deceive, it made the deception that much easier. Now, imagine if Welles was alive today.
There is no better platform for audience trickery than the web. Audiences are very much aware of that, however, and are ever more sophisticated. When anything of interest or out of the ordinary happens online it starts out as fake. Always. You are a liar until proven honest. Case in point is the bodybuilding.com / justintv suicide mentioned above. The first half of that episode people declared it to be a fake, all the while a kid was dying. In the real world. I thought it was fake at first too …
A ‘War of the Worlds’ online would have to be huge. Amazing production value. Tight script. Tons of evidence. Who knows how far you could go with it… A few CGI tricks with a ‘live’ ustream, some ‘reporters’ around the globe. We may just see it soon enough. Some will run for the hills. Some will load their guns. Most will sit in front of their computers and smile, refresh, retweet and yell FAKE. Fake or not, it’s all turning into one big simulation anyway.
Besides, everyone loves a good hoax. Big or small.
I remember a huge fight I had with my parents when I was around 12. It was a Sunday night. Simpsons night. Back when that show was the holy grail of edgy humor every 12 year old craved. But there was a problem. Schedule change. The Simpsons were on a half hour later this year. That half hour put the show past my bedtime. My parent’s bedtime policy was adapted from the Guantanamo handbook with no wiggle room. Thus, a major Sunday night crisis begun. My ultimate solution was to throw a fit well past 9:00, thus proving, in my 12-year-old opinion, how draconian this sleeping regime was. Of course, I never got to see that episode of the Simpsons.
Three years ago I was Fresh Off the Car, having just graduated from Syracuse, and completed the pilgrimage to Los Angeles. I was at a bar (Most likely El Guapo, since everyone starts there. It’s like the WME mailroom of LA bars.) and got into an… altercation with a lovely lady about the future of entertainment. All comments about my choice of bar conversations aside, I claimed we were five years from a complete entertainment transformation via what we refer to as the Internet.
Today, that leaves me two years to say, in my best Nikki Finke, TOLDJA!
I’m one day into the private beta of Google Wave. There are about one million people signed up and using it, while the rest of the world still clamors to get in (A co-worker sold an invite for $20 yesterday, and sign up URLs are going for $75).
Why is everyone stumbling over themselves to get an invite?
Google has positioned Wave as the next evolution in e-mail. That’s a vast understatement. So vast, in fact, that it may do Wave a disservice in the next few months as we get up to speed. From what I’ve seen, Wave is not going to kill ‘normal’ e-mail. It is going to kill off a lot of other services and re-invent the way we interact on the web. But, my gmail account isn’t going anywhere.
Back in the bad good-old-days; Before Facebook, AOL, Compuserve, BBS’s, DARPANET, and computers the size of that lady I see in Coffee Bean every morning, peoples lives were mostly private. You’d have to put in some time and true effort to let the world know what you thought about last nights episode of 3 Stooges or Lassie. Now we expect it via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
My brother went to Cornell which got Facebook shortly after Harvard. The second he told me about it, I was ready to sign up (Of course, the second he told what Middle School lunches were like I was ready for that too. Meatball subs?!). The day Facebook opened up to Syracuse I was there. Since then, I’ve had a handful of serious girlfriends, crazy nights, cross country adventures, scandalous apartments, and various forms of employment. All these events are marked by status updates, videos, pictures, and wall posts. Facebook (and to a lesser extent MySpace, YouTube and Twitter) contain my complete life history starting from my sophomore year in college. I’ve willingly given up so much more private information than the watcher of 3 Stooges would have ever imagined.
I wonder, what could Facebook tell me about myself?
In 1994, Apple Computer began developing the Power Macintosh 7100. They chose the internal code name “Carl Sagan”, the reference being that the mid-range PowerMac 7100 should make Apple “billions and billions”.
Today YouTube announced that they serve one Billion videos a day. So in honor of that, is this:
Last nights Season Finale of ‘The Office’ ends in the epic “Office Wedding Dance’ (above). Leave it to ‘The Office’ to transcend mediums and spoof this popular viral in a way as… touching as the original. In fact, it’s probably more touching. We’ve been rooting for Pam and Jim for five seasons. We know the Dunder Mifflin crew in an intimate way that only television (At least, for the moment) can create.
I wrote about the original JK Wedding Dance previously and it’s now more important than being Sony’s #8 music video on YouTube (And I bet that will rise the ranks for a few days following the Office spoof). It’s a new kind of Traditional and New Media merge – One of content and ideas rather than technical or distribution paradigms. It sets a precedent that it’s ok for TV to copy the Web. Audiences will get it.