How can you exploit the Viral culture to get your brand message out into the world? How do you do that without paying any real money for the videos themselves? I’ll tell you how. Because the latest venture to try and cash in on viral advertising arrived as an e-mail from BestAdsOnTV.com this morning:
SuperVirals now live!
Get rewarded for your ideas at http://www.supervirals.com
SuperVirals is a new website where top brands throw down the gauntlet for you to create cut-through content.
It’s where great ideas see the light of day. No approval committees. No research groups. No crazy deadlines. Just simple one-sentence briefs…
Upload your video, image or audio ideas and, as they get shared across the web, the SuperVirals scoring system decides the winner.
Currently up for grabs is AUD $3,000 in cash and over AUD $6,000 of cool mambo gear, shipped to wherever you are in the world. An aerobatics flight and a skydiving trip are also yours to be won.
Check out http://www.supervirals.com now.
So I had a look. The venture is called SuperVirals.com and works like this: A brave brand gives them a one line brief (eg. “Show how Krazy you are for Krispy Kremes!”) and then unpaid people (insert suckers here) go forth and make viral video that is then sent out into the world in a competitive burst for attention (they encourage the creators to “share yours like crazy”). The winner is determined by who gets the most hits and will be rewarded with the grand prize of AUD $3000 and some gear from Mambo.
It almost sounds like a recipe for success. Encourage people who like to make free content to make it for your client and then hand over a measly couple of bucks if they turn out to be the next Dove Evolution. Low overheads, easy access to talent and except for a few naive geeks losing some time, everybody wins. The perfect business model.
Except for a few details.
I’m not usually this cynical. Really. I love creative people making cool stuff. But SuperVirals.com is an exploitative business model and if they were making sneakers they’d be harassed by Oxfam. This is from their User Agreement:
By submitting a Content Idea to SuperVirals, you will automatically assign all rights (including intellectual property rights), title and interest in that Content Idea to SuperVirals forever without any payment by us to you or any third party.
You get no compensation at all, ever, they own your materials forever. Your song, your face, your ideas. They could probably sue you if you used your own song. In a worst case scenario, they take your idea, put some budget behind it and turn it into an international TV campaign and you get “zilch”. I realise that most of this is legal stuff is to protect themselves but it hurts content generators. They steal your intellectual property without giving you the most basic of creative rights.
If that weren’t bad enough, by making these Virals officially sanctioned they effectively handcuff creators and turn them into free hit-and-(mostly)miss idea generators who don’t have the resources of even the most basic ad agency. Let me show you what I mean:
A: To help your idea make it through to the live phase of a SuperVirals competition, and to give it the best chance of winning it’s worth sticking to a few simple common sense rules:
- Don’t diss the brand…
- Don’t show or encourage anything illegal…
- Don’t include ANY copyright protected material such as any pre-recorded music and clips from TV or DVDs etc…
- Do keep your private parts covered up!
- Don’t be boring!
- Click here for the SuperVirals Acceptable Content Guidelines.
It’s like you’re WORKING for these guys. I’m a creative in the ad industry and these are the rules I live with! At least I get paid to do this and I get a budget so I can afford to get something like original music (or some semblance of it). They don’t even give you a library to play with.
Here’s my favourite piece of optimism from the FAQ:
Q: Does it cost anything to enter a SuperVirals competition?
A: Nope. Zilch. The brands on the site have paid to tap into your creative talents.
They think someone would be foolish enough to PAY to make an advert? (Not even clients do that ;) )
Another bothersome aspect of this venture from a consumer position is that they hold all the Virals and then release them in one burst. As if the net were not full of enough crap already, an unlucky few will be inundated with amateur brand work informed by simplistic strategies and with little to no production values all for the same brand! I say unlucky few because the only people who’ll see these ads are friends of the makers and I doubt I know anyone who has that great a need for a free Mambo T-shirt.
I suppose the brands who are using this service have very little to lose. The terms and conditions ensure they decide what they officially associate their brand with and for a few bucks they can side step their usual suppliers and potentially have a big hit. And Bush may apologise for Iraq.
If you have any ideas don’t give them to these guys. For once the traditional advertising industry doesn’t seem all that bad.