Content Marketing: Be Careful What You Wish For.

Don’t hope for viral. Plan it.

A home run in today’s content marketing game is the elusive viral status bringing exponential brand impressions and engagement. Though the very name viral implies spontaneity, it is important that marketers commit a baseline of planning and forethought.

There are examples of no planningFirst Kiss is a touching short film about that universally awkward moment. It captures the emotion, fear and trepidation of interacting with another human in an intimate way for the first time. But, what makes this short film so universally buzz-worthy is that it features a first kiss among 20 strangers.

The film was beautifully executed, with a minimal mention of Wren Studio, the company that produced the film to launch its fall 2014 clothing line.  In this case, it was a big idea for which the brand was not ready. According to Inc., there were 41 million YouTube views within three days, and Wren’s announcement tweet was shared 450 times. Unfortunately, Wren wasn’t prepared for the onslaught. There was no landing page on the website for all of the traffic and a missed opportunity for social media share icons to encourage even more exposure.

There are examples of misleading the consumer: A big part of the fascination First Kiss was the fact that it was presented as complete strangers kissing for the first time. Mashable reported later that the video in fact consisted of actors, models and musicians from the area. Though they may have been strangers, the authenticity of the original concept was tarnished.

Then, there is always backlash: Today, you can find a stream of parodies of the original First Kiss video, including The First Slap, The First Gay Hug, and The First Sh*T. As they say, mimicry is the highest form of flattery. Maybe Wren Studio is regrouping with a better plan for next year’s new clothing line.

There are examples of unwisely unleashing the hounds: Ghost In The Shell, the highly anticipated live-action film based on the Japanese anime franchise, is set to release March 31, 2017, starring Scarlett Johansen. The marketing has included a Super Bowl spot, multiple trailers, a featurette and a viral marketing campaign.

The viral campaign’s impetus is a video of Scarlett Johansen proclaiming, “I am hunted. I am the hunter. I am Major” prompting a visit to There, the viewer is invited to upload a photo and share what makes them unique with the open-ended statement “I am..”.

Considering the backlash against the studio not slotting a Japanese actress for this iconic anime role, there have been negative posts such as “I am the woman who should have been cast”, with a photo of a Japanese actress. Another has a photo of Scarlett saying, “I am not Japanese” and “I am in love with white female feminism.”

There are countless other posts completing the open ended statement with anything but content for which it was intended. A personal favorite: “I am what PBR looks, tastes and smells like.” Somewhere, there is a marketing agency exec facing a very unhappy client who is saying “I am not impressed.”


Kathy Potts, VP/Group Account Director


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *