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The Art of the Hoax

If you hang around the Internet, as people tend to do these days, it would take a big effort to miss the “First Kiss” video. Teary eyed friends have shared it, calling it the most beautiful thing they ever saw. It’s so spontaneous, so awkward, so heart-warming; and so very much an ad.

If you hang around the Internet, as people tend to do these days, it would take a big effort to miss the “First Kiss” video. Teary eyed friends have shared it, calling it the most beautiful thing they ever saw. It’s so spontaneous, so awkward, so heart-warming; and so very much an ad.

Not long ago it was revealed that all the 20 men and women in the video were in fact paid actors, musicians and models. It takes away the spontaneity, erases that somewhat sweet awkwardness and sees the warmth slowly fading away. What’s left are the cold, hard facts and a liberal dose of reality. Sure, it was an actual first kiss for the people involved, but one planned out in detail in an attempt to go viral. No fun!

Anyway, this wouldn’t be the first time that love has been used for viral marketing purposes. Some may remember the Cinderella story including the Australian girl Heidi and her mysterious “man in the jacket”. They met at a cafe and really enjoyed each other’s company. Unfortunately he was in a rush and accidently left his jacket behind. Disaster! What’s a girl to do? Well, she posts a video on YouTube, asking the man owning the jacket to get in touch. That’s sweet, isn’t it? But as it turns out, there wasn’t really a prince charming to begin with, only a jacket from a menswear line from a big Australian retail company.

All’s fair in love and war… and advertising, or is it? We want to believe that those kisses were real and that Heidi was in fact looking for the man of her dreams, because those things DO happen, right? When confronted, “Heidi” (her real name is Lilly) wouldn’t admit that the video was a hoax, had us clinging on to the hope that romance isn’t just created by the media. When she eventually came clean, it didn’t even matter anymore. The video had already gotten a lot of attention, mission accomplished.

Viral marketing – cheap trick or effective strategy? How much attention would the “First Kiss” or the “Man in the Jacket” videos get if they were, without a doubt, ads? The secrecy is part of the marketing; the discussion around the authenticity of the videos is what gives viral marketing some of its power. It doesn’t matter what you think about this way of promoting a product. “First Kiss” got all kinds of attention from social media, in the press and now you read about it in this post, proving that it does in fact work. Viral marketing may however result in a society where we are reluctant to trust anything at all, which just might be a way of killing online marketing in the long run.

There are however examples of where this kind of authenticity stunt is just pure fun, not to say genius. Otherwise it’s best to be honest, as deceiving your customers just might backfire on you.

 

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Image & video courtesy: independent.co.uk, Youtube; Tatia Pllieva, H3idi8

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