Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pepsi fails miserably at viral marketing attempt

Corporations are always trying to figure out to take advantage of the power of online viral buzz. They see regular folks posting random videos of themselves or others and watch the Youtube hits skyrocket into the millions with little effort. For some reason though, when a corporation tries it, it often falls flat on its face. The reason is this: for a video to become a viral hit, it usually has to be genuine and not staged, like the kid who was stoned after his visit to the dentist. They didn't tell the kid to act woozy and pretend like he just juiced up at the dentist office - he really was doped up and was not playing it up for the camera with dreams of becoming an internet sensation. That's why it was loved by many, and that's why it fails miserably when corporations try to get it on the act.

The latest attempt comes from Pepsi, in their efforts to get the word out about Pepsi Max. The premise is this: professional NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon disguises himself and plays the role of a guy who doesn't know much about cars but is looking for a new ride. He and the car salesman meet outside and they decide to test drive a new Chevy Camaro. At first Jeff Gordon acts like he barely knows how to drive - doing the "stop/start" routine that 15 year-olds do when they drive their parent's car for the first time. He then lets loose and takes off like a lunatic, racing around the dealership, making maneuvers only a skilled driver could pull off, almost giving the car salesman a heart attack. 

This would have been quite a hoot, except for the fact that it was completely staged. And not staged well. The car salesman, if he even was a real car salesman, was clearly in on it and the dialogue was obviously scripted. Somehow Pepsi had something to do with this - oh yeah, that's the hidden cam. The Pepsi can cam. But why do you need a hidden cam when everyone involved is getting paid to produce a viral ad?

What annoys us the most about these types of stunts is that they're actually good ideas most of the time. Why didn't they just do it for real? The genuineness of the salesman would have really shown through and it would have been extremely entertaining and viral. Instead, we get this fake, staged, watered down pathetic attempt at creating buzz which should be embarrassing for everyone involved. 

Evidently it did fool one poor soul though, Chris Chase from the USA Today Sports section. He wrote of the "success" of the marketing stunt and took it on face value as being real. After readers pointed out to him that the stunt was completely staged, he added:

I've been recently told I'm a wet blanket when it comes to evaluating the legitimacy of viral videos, so I'll keep my opinions about this one to myself. 

Either way, the salesman should have been suspicious when "Mike" put an unopened Pepsi Max in the cup holder. That's always a sign things are about to get nuts.

Barf! If that guy isn't on the Pepsi pay roll already, he should be. 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. It seems to me like they're focusing and trying way to hard. Well I hope that, sooner or later, they'll realize that quality doesn't always necessarily come out based on pure performance alone. Reminds me of yet another lesson I learned from a dentist in Ottawa. It's funny where you can learn new things if you can keep your mind open.