Don't ruin your great YouTube video with too-slick Madison Avenue packaging

Readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of YouTube videos created to spread an idea or story. When people share your ideas and stories with their friends, family members, and colleagues, and there is a small rub-off on you, that's just terrific. There's no better way to market. (It sure beats advertising).

Consider the video called The BBQ Song, sponsored by Alka-Seltzer and performed by Rhett & Link (with backing from the Homestead Pickers). Kyle Matthew Oliver, who pointed me to this soon-to-be-classic calls it the "funniest and most delicious-looking music video I've seen in a long time."

What a hoot. Check it out now and then read the rest of this post…

Did you watch it? Cool, right?


What I like is that it has a homemade sort of feel even though it was probably professionally shot. And, although the Alka-Seltzer brand is in there three times, I think it is not too heavy handed. (We saw the Alka-Seltzer name on the sign in the very beginning, then "Speedy" makes a very brief appearance for a moment in the middle and finally less than ten seconds from the end we see Speedy again.)

Imagine how crappy the video would be if the Alka-Seltzer name was in the song itself like a jingle or if Speedy was seen throughout or some other forced branding method.

Anyway, as great The BBQ Song is as stand alone YouTube video, I think The Alka-Seltzer Great American Road Trip site that houses the "campaign" is just too slick and predictable and therefore probably a failure for Alka-Seltzer. Some well-paid Madison Avenue advertising agency likely built the site for Bayer Health Care (do we really care that Alka-Selzer is owned by Bayer by the way...). This Web site "campaign" digs deep into the standard playbook and thus falls flat.

In my opinion, one of the reasons that videos spread is the homemade quality. (There are other reasons YouTube videos spread and I share some here.)

People are advertised to thousands of times a day. We see countless commercial messages all the time. We crave authenticity. We want to get away from advertising to something interesting and real.

The BBQ Song video is terrific but the site is not.

What do you think?

David Meerman Scott

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