After our initial lecture in Creating Impact (in Media Production), the only thing I could remember (without looking at my notes, that is) was online video. Mostly YouTube. Babies. Cats and dogs. User generated content. Audio tuned and not. Mixed, remixed, restructured. Like this one.
(NSFW, sounds like porn even though it is not):
Yes, it got audiotuned (sounds like ‘it got raped’, doesn’t it?):
+ a term that I had heard numerous times but didn’t know the exact definition of:
A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.
(American Heritage Dictionary, as syndicated by Wordnik.com)
Well, a meme is not just an idea that wanders around. It is an idea or phenomenon that creates impact. Most examples had the impact of making people laugh, going viral, making more people laugh, then inspiring some other people with free time and editing software to remix that content. At some point, some of them tried to monetize this momentum. Some of them succeeded. Most of the times, the monetizing aspect of the content has gone very far from the initial idea. For example, with the Double Rainbow guy, it is not the initial video that made it into iTunes (it would have been pretty bizarre to do it with all the guy’s exclamations!), but the remixed, audiotuned version. Still, the audiotuned version can not exist by itself – it only makes sense when acompanying the original video (so it has proper context) – which is true for most of the other examples of remixed videos.
Memes can teach us a lot about how internet users behave, what reaction different types of content provoke (this also depends on how the content is made available – Facebook messages, Twitter updates, ‘Related’ or ‘promoted’ videos on YouTube etc.). The impact also depends on who the author of the content is. If it is user generated content, it gets one type of response (because people can relate to it), whereas if it has been produced by an organisation, the response is totally different.
OK, but what does it have to do with us?
Well, it turns out media producers need to have an online presence so that they gain more exposure, which at some point to lead to more comissioned work and/or sales => money to pay the bills. And we do need to compete with all the ‘prosumers’ out there who do it for free while we stare at our empty fridges and bank accounts. So we need to know how these mechanisms work, and try to make it work for us and our projects. And generate income on the way. Which, if you ask me, is a pretty tough job to do.
Here are some recent examples of viral videos and websites created by commercial authors:
- Lurpak and The Hungry One (HD)
The Hungry One apparently also has a Facebook and Twitter profile, tweeting stuff like:http://twitter.com/#!/thehungryone/status/27023873035739137
- Ben the Bodyguard (iPhone security app – a tough guy protecting your phone)
- The Cup Size Choir – ad campaing for men buying bras and choosing sizes. The girls can be played like the piano (NSFW, again):
http://www.cupsizechoir.com/?k=1(OK, these examples can also be used for the Representation and Gender themes – but that is so 105MC…)
Moral of the story? Brands, businesses and organisations are embracing these marketing strategies – they use ideas and creativity to lower expenses (air time is expensive) and increase impact. And we should be doing the same.