Foxy Advertising

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Seth Godin about the next viral music video. The video was posted to YouTube on September 3, 2013. As of today, the video has received more than 46 million views and quickly rising.

So what is this video that so many people have watched? Well, it’s a music video by a Norwegian comedy duo about the sounds different animals make with a focus on what the fox “says”. That is pretty much the video in a nutshell. But you really have to watch it to fully understand the viral-ness of it. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Most people stop there. They take the video at face value, maybe share it with their friends, get a good laugh, and move on. Like a virus, these kinds of videos spread until they don’t. But companies could stand to gain from some of these videos if they are smart about it.

Case in point: This commercial from the television network Fox (also below).

Fox took the song and used it to advertise their Fall show lineup. I’ve seen this from other companies as well. AIG used a viral home video posted to YouTube to make this commercial for their retirement services a few years back. While some companies (i.e. Dove) create their own videos which then go viral, not all companies have the same success.

Which is why I think what Fox and AIG (and other companies) did was creative. They took a video that was already liked by the public and then used it for their own advertising. What these companies (and their advertising agencies) clearly understood was that the online community was loving a specific video and so they rode that “viral” wave to their benefit. While this can backfire sometimes, I think the concept is smart. And in the case of Fox, it couldn’t have worked out better…I mean, could they get any more literal?

Original Content

I went on a week-long vacation last month. My main goal was to get away, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with my boyfriend and generally “disconnect” from the real world. My days were spent outdoors attempting to be “one with nature” but, that idea of disconnecting didn’t happen as well as I’d hoped. While I did manage to keep my everyday life at bay (i.e. work, school, routine), I managed to somehow discover a new show on Netflix called “Orange is the New Black.” I spent evenings back at the hotel watching all 13 episodes of the first season.

I had heard about “Orange is the New Black” from a few friends and had read about it online. But I didn’t quite get what all the hype was about. And then I watched it. And now I am hooked.

But this post isn’t about the show. It’s about the bigger idea here. It’s about innovation.

Prior to watching the show, I had thought of Netflix simply as a streaming service that provided previously aired tv content and movies at my convenience. While that alone is a novel idea, it just didn’t draw me in much. I mean…Blockbuster was cool, but their lack of innovation led to their demise. And after the Netflix snafu a few years back, my perception of the company wasn’t exactly pristine.

Fast forward to my vacation, and I am now officially a Netflix subscriber. What took me so long, right? But really, “What took Netflix so long!?”

I subscribed to Netflix because now I have a show to look forward to. One that isn’t offered anywhere else. It has an amazing storyline and most importantly: it is original content. This isn’t the company’s first foray into original content; recently they also aired a U.S. version of House of Cards. And that target audience ate it up.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Well, Netflix just blew past its competitors (namely, Hulu) and has begun competing with the likes of HBO. This Forbes article sums it up pretty well. While Netflix will continue to provide various titles (albeit curated) for its subscribers, it now offers something for that other group (like me) who doesn’t necessarily see an added benefit to paying for shows that don’t interest them much. By focusing on innovation and making their way into original content, they have grown their consumer base and really proven that a company can cater to a variety of customer segments. They got me, didn’t they?

What are your thoughts on the Netflix strategy? Do you see any areas for improvement?