Nice, but not social, viral

Mr Nice, the new film about Howard Marks, is being promoted by means of a viral attempt. I say viral attempt because of two reasons:

a) viral only applies after something has “gone viral” ie. it is a term that can only be applied after the fact.

b) this is highly unlikely to have a proper chance of reaching critical mass.

I’ll come back to these 2 points, but first some background on the campaign, what it got right and what it lacks:

Mr Nice viral user journey

In this game, the user takes on the role of a smuggler. Once signed up, the user has to deliver 4 packages to Mr Nice. If the user delivers all 4 packages they are entered into a draw for a round the world trip (well, actually a voucher for £1000 from STA travel)

Nice idea. Users sign up using facebook. Users deliver packages by watching film clips on partner sites [FHM, NME, Viceland, Nuts]. Each time a film is watched an update gets posted to the user’s facebook page.

All well and good, except the entire process takes about 10 minutes and there is no real incentive to talk to others about it. It lacks social stimuli. Worse still, it spams the user’s facebook page with 5 messages in the 10 minutes it takes to complete.

What they got right

  • The demographic was correctly identified, FHM, NME, Viceland and Nuts are ideal media partners for the product.
  • The medium was well chosen, making a game with a relevant theme to promote awareness of the film.

What they got wrong

  • Lack of engagement (other than the automated Facebook and/or Twitter updates) the user is not incentivised to share the campaign.
  • Despite integrating social elements the auto posting makes users antisocial by spamming their followers / friends.
  • No sterling content – the user is given nothing more than 4 short videoclips embedded on partner sites.
  • There is a facebook page for the Mr Nice film, but there is no tie-in with the campaign – at the time of writing it has a grand total of 136 members
  • Despite wanting to reach young guys (see partner sites) the site is flash only so doesn’t work on iPhone or iPad…

A sure sign of a failed viral attempt

This campaign has been running since 22nd June 2010. It has had 3 months to make a splash and yet I hear adverts for it all day on Spotify… A well executed viral attempt (whilst still not having a guarantee of achieving critical mass) should not require a media spend to seed it. Critical mass is achieved by appealing to the demographic, giving them opportunity and incentive to share.

What would Burnett do?

If I were planning the campaign for this film I would probably also go with a game format, it fits the demographic well. A game which has some hurdles and scoring in it (keeps users playing again and again trying to beat their friends). The game would incentivise social sharing, but not auto post. Players would be able to unlock exclusive content by performing certain tasks. Perhaps a foursquare based game for launch night could work too…

There are a thousand and one ways to plan & execute a launch campaign, the best involve the user and inspire the user to leverage their network on behalf of the product or service (or in this case, film)

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