Rack up the views to stay alive

Stumbled across this story from Berks County about a woman undergoing chemotherapy for advanced lung cancer. Money’s tight, since she can’t work; her chemo is being provided by an ‘angel doctor.’

Her family hope to solve some of the money problem by winning a viral video campaign sponsored by the computer maker Lenovo, for whom her brother-in-law works. The company is sponsoring an employee “viral video” contest to promote a computer; a video that garners a half-million views will win $50,000. A friend of the brother-in-law entered a video, as he explains:

“I wanted my video to have broad appeal and so I got the cutest person I know, my son, Nick, to star in it. He’s a big soccer fan and so we decided to feature him learning about his favorite player, Brazilian Neymar Jr. This allowed us to feature the convertible Yoga 2 Laptop PC, plus we used it when we shot the stop motion animated introduction as well,” said DeShane.

The video itself is heart-rending to watch – it’s a little kid messing around on some Astroturf in the garage and rambling on about Neymar, with nothing said about the lady with cancer. Except that there are little explainer bubbles popping up throughout telling you about the lady with cancer and how sharing this video can help her out.

Here’s something that Lenovo’s marketing exec said last year:

You need personality. “Every message, every video helps bring personality to our brand,” he says.

And he has examples. Like a video of wine being poured onto a Thinkpad. That clip reached more than 3 million customers thanks to social media.

But Roman’s strategy isn’t just about providing viral content to the masses. It’s about getting the masses to work for his brand.

Viral ‘content’ is possibly good for building brands, since advertising really is just a fight to get a product associated in your mind with anything, anything at all, however randomly, so that perhaps you think about that product more than its competitors and for that obscure reason buy that product when you want/need that product. Viral stuff is good for driving clicks and getting advertising dollars, if you’re a click-hungry entrepreneur.

What “going viral” does not guarantee is any cash payout, unless you’re one of those teenage Vine stars who are now touring and attempting to make their six-second bit into a half-hour routine. Unless there’s some of that brand money available, and then, perhaps, you can win a contest at going viral with cuteness which will pay for cancer treatments.

How long until the protest kids start demanding Equal Twitter Followings for Equal Rights? Because if spreading the word is all anyone can do about anything, turns out that some people have inherently unfair advantages (big butts, Auto-Tune) in building their Social Networks to a point where saying anything there gets some attention.

Thanks for shopping, America

Forgot to put this up as an example of Me Doing Work back when it ran on Thanksgiving. The same sentiments apply to the whole Holiday Season: You are truly an American Hero for going out on days sacred to Christian, Jew, and pagan alike. Even Boxing Day, which a friend in retail said was “way, way worse than Black Friday.”

If you’re feasting with a relative who thinks everything was better back in the day this Thanksgiving, please be kind. There are still people who do not understand that in 21st century America, Thanksgiving is now the day we need to go out and acquire those things that make life worthy of praise.

Go get those presents, America.

You Won’t Believe What This Idiot Millennial Thinks About The Internet!

There’s still a brief moment when reading a profile like this about a contemporary that I shiver with fear, loathing, and jealousy.

He’s made HOW much pushing plagiarized “feel good” stuff on the Internet? He actually thinks this crap is going to change the world?

And then the moment passes and my thoughts change to pity for the techno-inevitabilist, 27-year-old Emerson Spartz, who’s been selected as the New Yorker Babbitt0Philistino of the week. Why, the man doesn’t even stop to appreciate Art after giving what he admits to be his only speech, which is on “making things go viral.”

Here’s a graph containing a particularly fine vintage of New Yorker disdain:

Spartz left the stage and walked to his office, a mile away, without stopping to see the Isa Genzken retrospective upstairs. “People have hoity-toity reasons for preferring one kind of entertainment to another,” he said later. “To me, it doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at cat photos that inspire you or so-called ‘high art’ that inspires you.”

Picture swiped from Dose.com list “It Might Sound Weird But Shirley Temple Grew Up To Be Really Hot And A United States Ambassador To Two Nations”

This is a story that traces its roots in American magazine writing back at least to Mencken’s disdain for most people: “Look at this capitalist who lacks any and all Taste!”

Writer Andrew Marantz says Spartz has “the saucer eyes and cuspidated chin of a cartoon fawn.” Spartz has a father who “speaks in passionate bursts that sound like unrelated fortune-cookie aphorisms spliced together,” whom also homeschooled two sons on a curriculum of life lessons culled from Investor’s Business Daily and Tony Robbins books-on-tape. A father who says his daughter-in-law, Spartz’s partner-in-virology, can’t intellectually keep up with Emerson. Right in front of her, at the dining table.

The Philistines still exist; and the Upholders-of-Culture who keep them at bay must be occasionally reminded that lots of people once read Horatio Alger and now listen to Tony Robbins (or, worse, Joel Osteen). The survival of aesthetic refinement depends on continued donations to the Arts; read this article and shake your head hard that Spartz is so foolish to equate quality with the number of shares an article gets.

Obviously Spartz’s belief that total viewers reached somehow equates to “power” or an ability to Change the World is folly. All of a sudden the same 100,000 people who click on your site through Facebook for “20 People Who Will Probably Depend To Give Up On Life By Lunchtime” will suddenly decide to take time from their online distractions to be Educated on the Issues, sure. Good luck.

Now, if you believe that some of those people might be convinced to give $5 via Paypal to the cause du jour, sure, that’s a form of impact. You’ll be right alongside the NFL and Dancing with the Stars in running little reminders there was recently tornadoes in Kansas and the Red Cross needs cash. Or, as Spartz says, if he were running a more news-heavy operation, to draw attention to an issue he’d put together a touching three-minute video full of “(s)hort, declarative sentences” and a way for folks to help out at the end. To make them feel like they’re doing something.