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Twerk fails, waterslides and goat-rescuing pigs. There are countless examples of viral videos that turned out to be hoaxes. “Fake it till you make it” seems to be a common philosophy in marketing – but just how far can we push the boundaries?
One of the latest examples of staged viral content is the video of American police officer Jeff Davis driving around in his car while singing and bopping along to Taylor Swift’s song ‘Shake It Off.’ A Facebook post from the police office claimed that the video was a find they made while reviewing in-car cameras, but as it turns out, the video was staged and shot in two takes in a secluded parking lot.
Maybe ‘fake’ is even better?
This once again raises the question of whether or not it’s okay to stage content in social media. In this case, I’m leaning towards the former.
Being the father of a 10-year-old Taylor Swift fan, Davis was well acquainted with the song he was asked to perform. He knew all the words, thought the tune was quite catchy, and probably put little to no effort into planning the performance. So is it really that misleading? The premises behind the video might not be true, but the glee and the groove seems pretty genuine.
Judging by the comments and reactions to the video, few people were disappointed when they learned that the video was staged, and from a marketing point of view, it’s probably even better that it was. The video shows us that the police force as a whole was willing to make an effort in order to change their image. And instead of just being a department that happens to have one witty guy on the force, the whole organization is now perceived as light-hearted and fun.
Careful consideration is needed
The case of the singing policeman might be fairly harmless, but there is in fact a fine line between clever and deceiving content – perhaps especially when it comes to commercial campaigns. Staging content comes with a risk, and we should all ask ourselves if the amount of views and attention is worth the possible disappointment when people find out the truth.
It is hard to tell what the long-term outcomes of these kinds of campaigns are. Do they reflect badly on the responsible brands in the long run? Or do they simply add to the buzz, giving the brand top-of-mind status? A campaign like this needs careful consideration, but we shouldn’t completely dismiss the concept of staging content. We might frown at the way these marketers create conversation, but at the end of the day, some of them are probably just laughing all the way to the bank, going: “Haters gonna hate, hate hate hate hate … Shake it off! Shake it off!”
Tillsammans med vårt moderbolag Nordic Morning och systerbolaget Klikki är vi stolta partners på Mediedagen 2014 i Stockholm. Mediedagen samlar årligen 200 personer med stort intresse för att diskutera aktuella frågor rörande medieköp och marknadsföring.
Traditional SEO focuses on optimizing existing content for a limited number of popular keyword phrases. This inside-out approach may succeed in publishing information that is searchable. But does it provide people (customers) with the information they are looking for? In other words, does it enable a company website to reach all potential customers?