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.