Socks, the animated dancing pony from 3UK’s latest advertising campaign, has become an Internet superstar over the last week or so, thanks to his starring turn moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”.
The ad, created by Wielden + Kennedy of London, demonstrates the brand’s understanding that “silly stuff” is important to their users. So important, in fact, that they’re hinging their advertising strategy on people’s desire to find and share new “silly stuff”. And so far, it seems to be working a treat. At the time of writing, the video is getting on for 3million YouTube views on the official 3 YouTube channel, has been giffed and hit the front page of Reddit, had 662,958 Facebook and 18,118 Twitter shares, and been featured 165 blog posts (according to the Unruly Video Viral Video Chart).
The genius of the video is that it has much more in common with your average viral video than most television adverts, focusing more on entertaining the viewer with a fun, short film than on bashing them over the head with a brand message. In a minute-long ad, the brand and message appear only in the final 5 seconds. And a simple message it is too “we know you like this stuff, we’re the network to come to to make sure you can get it all the time”, the implication being that other networks are less focused on online connectivity and download speeds.
But while it has gone viral it is still, at its heart, an advert. Of course it’s not the first advert to go viral, but it’s the first advert I can remember that was clearly designed to go viral, and then went as a result of openly referencing and imitating viral videos that had gone before it. We’re into Inception territory here, folks.
Will we look back on this as a watershed moment? Will brand managers be taking notes here on where to go next with their advertising strategies?
Am I as bad as the rest, co-opting popular memes because they add that hint of “silliness” that might get you to share this page?
I’ll leave that for you to decide.