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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Digging In The Right Yard: The Viral Marketing Of It’s All Gone Pete Tong

Digging In The Right Yard: The Viral Marketing Of It’s All Gone Pete Tong

Posted on August 13, 2005 and read 11,152 times

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There was little coverage to be found in the mainstream media upon the release of the independent mockumentary “It’s All Gone Pete Tong“. Not that it deserved to be overlooked. The movie, about an Ibiza deejay, Frankie Wilde, who has to deal with going deaf, is not your average party flick. Picking up awards at a number of festivals, it is beautifully filmed and touches on a far deeper level than just spinning records and snorting lines. There is redemption in this movie. And everyone likes a little of that in their lives once in a while.

It would appear that the makers of “Pete Tong” chose to ignore the usual means of promoting their film in favour of perpetuating the Myth of Frankie Wilde across the internet. Using a combination of viral marketing and guerilla tactics not dissimilar to The Blair Witch Project, a google search of Frankie Wilde immediately incites questions as to whether this movie is based on a true story or if it is entirely fictional. There are amateur fan websites, mp3′s and postings on various dance culture forums purporting to have heard of this deaf legend of the deejay world. Ultimately, all of these points of reference lead to the official movie site.

The illusion is short lived for anyone who is wise to such strategies; but it is well executed and has stirred up confusion and debate among critics and fans alike. In the end, it has reached the audience that it needed to reach, ignoring the wider berth and bankroll of the mainstream, in favour of a focused few. They found their viewership. They nailed it with a bull’s eye.

It has never been easier to miss the mark in such endeavours. These days, the traditional methods of advertising often prove to be ineffective and ignored by a young and savvy audience that more often than not is looking in a different direction altogether. One must note the topic du jour at the recent Cannes Lions Awards. “The 30-second TV spot is now an endangered species.” There is no longer a front line; no easy target.

Sometimes they miss. I know it has happened to me enough times now to realize that it is not some fluke event: while walking through the urban landscape, a billboard or bus shelter ad provides the answer to a question I was never asked; or delivers the punch line to a joke I was never told. I recognize by its design and post-ironic gait that the message is aimed at me, but somewhere along its campaign lifeline, the first part of the story never reached me. It was in a magazine that I didn’t read; or on a bus that I didn’t ride; or more commonly, on prime time television — which I rarely ever watch. Someone out there in the marketing world thought they knew who I was but they were mistaken. Someone out there misread the numbers, bungled the coordinates and started digging up the wrong yard.

Yes, people are still watching television, and they will no doubt continue to do so for the ages, but they now watch it on their own terms choosing viewing options such as TiVo, DVD collections and BitTorrent. Advertisements do not make the cut in these new mediums. Because of this, we are starting to see such spots relocated from their natural habitat to circulate and more often debut online in the form of the viral ad.

It is interesting to note how the very same choice and freedom that is slowly killing the 30-second spot on the TV actually becomes its lifeline on the Net. No longer a bothersome necessity that one must fast forward through to return to the regularly scheduled program, an ad that receives buzz will be sought out by its viewers and held up as a work of art in itself. Indeed, there are numerous websites dedicated to showcasing quality advertisements as well as tracking their viral popularity in the same way that pop singles are charted on the American Top 40.

And as “Pete Tong” shows, one is no longer limited to the 30-second spot, in fact the true depth of possibility on the internet lies far beyond it. Consider the “Jeanine Salla” google search campaign for the movie AI for which users who entered the query suddenly found themselves embarking on a plot twisting trail of “murder, threats, intrigue, sentient robots and a future very close to our own.” Or the Spike Jonze campaign for the Euro Volvo S40 which documented a small town in Sweden where a “strange phenomena” inexplicably made everyone buy the same car. Such ideas become entities and entertainment unto themselves all the while keeping the audience aware of the main message.

Frankie Wilde was the greatest deejay to spin at Ibiza: it all depends on knowing who you’re talking to and how to reach them.

It would seem that everyone is “going viral” these days. It is certainly a low risk and cost for a company who knows exactly who they are talking to. But be aware that it is just as much a risk as any other form of marketing. Regardless of how homegrown or unconventional a solution may seem, it should still be approached with the same consideration and strategy as any other execution. It is still your brand that you are playing with. Give good thought to what solution is right for you. And in the meantime … keep digging.

Kevin Broome is the Senior Designer at Industrial Brand Creative in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Industrial Brand Creative offers innovative branding, marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, print and new media productions that go beyond the basics of good design, and provide results. Recognized for their success in capturing audiences, and a somewhat twisted perspective, the company’s award-winning creative team, produces compelling and effective solutions for a wide range of clients. Photos available upon request.




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