There's a delicious irony in the fact that this commercial is a viral; a web-based advert propagated by passing it from one person to another. Meh.
In recent years, virals have become the tool of choice for marketing people. After all, the internet is available everywhere: on your computer, on your phone, on your PDA ... so why restrict your marketing potential to TV, cinema or radio? They all require the audience to be at a certain place at a certain time in order to see them. Of course, the other huge advantage of the world wide web is that it is so wonderfully democratic and free. Although some degree of policing does go on, much web content is free from censorship or control. Which means that, in responsible hands, the humour in ads can be a bit fruitier than more traditional advertising media permits.
Why are we still so priggish and prudish about ads in the UK? It seems to be the last bastion of stiff-upper-lippiniess in our media. While post-watershed TV shows regularly feature nudity and simulated sex, extreme violence and swearing - and I mean the bad swear words here - our ads are still strangely coy. While Dr Gunther Von Hagens happily dissects dead people at 10pm on a Friday night, the raciest ad on TV has a woman groaning lasciviously as she washes her hair; the whole ad campaign based upon a spurious similarity between the word 'organic' and 'orgasmic'. Even children's TV has evolved. The word 'fart' was terribly rude when I was a lad and you'd never have heard it on TV even 10 years ago. now it's everywhere on day time TV. The only time I've ever heard the word 'fart' used in an ad is for computer game Little Big World. And that's because someone creates a 'Fart World'. Tell me the last time you heard even the word 'bloody' in a TV commercial?
Twenty years ago I, like many other Brits, hooted and honked with laughter at the TV show Clive James on TV where the no-necked Aussie showed us hilarious, saucy and brilliantly clever commercials from around the world. Watching these, I assumed that we'd have ads like that ourselves one day. But it hasn't happened has it?
The result is that all of the best stuff has shifted to the internet. Quite apart from the censorship issue, the net is cheap. Posting a video on YouTube costs nothing. Buying a TV slot costs a bloody fortune. It's pretty obvious to me that TV companies need to wake up to the reality that they are going to lose sponsorship from advertisers. It's already happening on many cable and satellite channels where the endless repetition of just a handful of commercials showcases their pitiful lack of advertising investment.
I'll leave the last word on this issue to Cory Doctorow, co-founder of Boing Boing. In his essay Media Morphosis: How the internet will devour, transform or destroy your favourite media, he makes the valid point that, 'The Internet chews up media and spits them out again. Sometimes they get more robust. Sometimes they get more profitable. Sometimes they die. It's a scary thought, especially if you're personally attached to an old medium like movies, books, records, or newspapers. But just because an industry is socially worthy, it doesn't follow that it is commercially viable. Today, besides newspapers, three other media are thrashing over their futures in a networked world, and as with newspapers, the rhetoric is mostly of the nonproductive "But I like it!" and "It's good for society!" variety, with not enough thought given to whether these media are commercially viable in the Internet age.'
Food for thought, eh?