because it spreads like a virus? get it?
August 3, 2006 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Agency.com — best known for their work on... well not much really — recently had the opportunity to bid on the interactive account for Subway Restaurants. Their idea was to create a pitch video (embedded youtube) showing them brainstorming for ideas for the pitch video. They posted it online hoping to make it go viral, but the only viral thing about it really was that it used the word viral in it as many times as possible and tried to show how hip, edgy and cool they are.

Coudal Partners — best known for sponsoring matches of Photoshop Tennis... although the archives of past matches are currently down... they spawned legions of copycats, — decided to post their own Unsolicited Response video (embedded quicktime) which in turn is much funnier than the original.

So what makes a lame attempt at viral video actually GO viral? With so much discussion on advertising forums saying it isn't, all the attention it has been getting is ensuring that it is.
posted by skrike (53 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is my first MeFi post hope you like it.
posted by skrike at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2006


Ah, irony.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2006


So what makes a lame attempt at viral video actually GO viral?

Do not feed the trolls Viral Marketers.
posted by shoepal at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2006


What shoepal said.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:29 PM on August 3, 2006


From this post: So what makes a lame attempt at viral video actually GO viral?

From the write-up under the linked video: Beyond that, the chances of anyone passing this video around are slim indeed.

You're passing it around. That makes it viral. Like a duh-ZEEEZ.
posted by Milkman Dan at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2006


The insiders discuss: Organic, Media Bistro, Ad Rants and Ad Freak.
posted by daniel9223 at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2006


guys, guys, can I get you in the corner office...
posted by johnny novak at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2006


Marketers are uniformly stupid; in addition, since most of them are not really human, they cannot empathize with real people. That's why they fail so often.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:34 PM on August 3, 2006


I actually watched this. BORING. There is no way that anyone who doesn't work in advertising can watch this and think it's worth telling anyone about.
posted by cell divide at 1:37 PM on August 3, 2006


Screw them skrike, I liked it.

Somehow I get the feeling that the folks at the Agency hire people based on looks rather than ability . Also, the way the jerk who answered the phone gathered his people for a meeting, besides just being rude, also implied that whatever they currently were involved in was not terribly important, which was probably the case. I suspect if I spent a few hours huffing paint followed by regular does of cocaine, I'd feel right at home.

On the other hand, that the Coudalites didn't actually know beforehand that Subway sandwiches are shit, shows a certain distance from real life.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2006


I don't get the MeFi response so far. It's like people see the word "viral" in a post and have a kneejerk response. I think this post is an interesting portrait of the impact of a (lame, buzzwordy) trend on the advertising industry.

Plus, the video is cringe-funny.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2006


I'm being smothered under layers of irony.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:40 PM on August 3, 2006


Coudals response is the viral factor - before that we didn't think of posting it at adland. So boring.
posted by dabitch at 1:42 PM on August 3, 2006


Coudal is a member here.
posted by macadamiaranch at 1:42 PM on August 3, 2006


mr_roboto: agreed. All good mefites know that the first rule of viral marketing is to not talk about viral marketing.
posted by skrike at 1:43 PM on August 3, 2006


darnit I meant to link the post. Doesn't matter does it? Since everyone is flagging this post I mean...
posted by dabitch at 1:43 PM on August 3, 2006


dabitch: I wouldnt have posted it if had been anyone other than coudal. I won that jewelboxing contest on your site a couple years ago and have been a big fan ever since :)
posted by skrike at 1:44 PM on August 3, 2006


Plus, the video is cringe-funny.

Sure is. Doubly so if you have any direct experience of ad agencies.

You're passing it around. That makes it viral. Like a duh-ZEEEZ.

It's being passed around so that people can laugh at the agency, when their goal was for it to be passed around so that Subway would see how hip they were and give them the account. Instead, anyone thinking of hiring them now will Google them and find thousands of people pointing out how utterly shit they are at their jobs.

Unless it's a sly double-bluff, and we all end up associating Subway™ sandwiches with our feelings of superiority over this bunch of talentless, clueless hacks.
posted by jack_mo at 1:49 PM on August 3, 2006


Skrike: this is a good post. That "viral" video? Meh. But the remix? I can see that becoming downright contagious. It's less than a minute!
posted by adamrice at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2006


Seemed like the agency.com thing was pratically begging for some sort of response and we had a camera and were starting to think about lunch...
posted by coudal at 1:52 PM on August 3, 2006


I've been telling people I'm Grace Kelly meets Rodney Dangerfield for years, dammit. Years!

(Love the shot of Ms. Thing's huge engagement rock as she hands the faux application over to the $6-hour Subway manager.)
posted by turducken at 1:54 PM on August 3, 2006


Heh, that's actually pretty much what they claim now: When We Roll Big:
Enough talking about what is viral. We’ve had that conversation. Let’s just say we wanted to prove how we could reach our target audience at the lowest possible cost. That audience was the ad industry, and the cost was nothing. You do the math.
I don't buy it myself - they were acting like talentless dicks so that people would talk about them being talentless dicks, so that Subway would see they weren't talentless dicks? - but I suppose they deserve points for trying to cash in on the ridicule.
posted by jack_mo at 1:56 PM on August 3, 2006


What truly got me about the video is how bad it is considering it isn't real. I mean, a camera happened to be on the guy when Subway called...and behind those two women in their office? It's a scripted video, and yet is achingly uninteresting and painful to watch. They knew, for example, that they'd order subway for lunch, and yet the funniest thing they came up with was to condescendingly joke about getting a job at subway? I'd be embarrassed to work for agency.com.
posted by Doug at 2:00 PM on August 3, 2006


Subway sandwiches are shit

I really like Subway sandwiches
posted by reklaw at 2:01 PM on August 3, 2006


Like rap wars, ad agency style
posted by necessitas at 2:05 PM on August 3, 2006


Let's see, client solicits a 5 minute video from agency about their executive team. Agency delivers a 9+ minute video about something else. So is the first rule of advertising give the customer what they didn't ask for?

I did think that the Coudal response was funny, but then I'm just a Chicago kind of guy.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:27 PM on August 3, 2006


jack_mo writes "That audience was the ad industry, and the cost was nothing. You do the math."

It looked like they had a bunch of people dedicating time to this. The cost was nothing? Huh.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:34 PM on August 3, 2006


Damnit! Shrike, you just made me lose the game and I'd been winning for, like, months.
posted by oddman at 2:40 PM on August 3, 2006


oddman: I love it when people call me shrike. what game? whatd I do?
posted by skrike at 2:42 PM on August 3, 2006


It's worth noting that most of the pop-cultural sausage we consume is the result of exactly this same kind of irony-free, talent-lite doucheapalooza, occuring daily in corner offices at TV networks, magazines, and music and movie studios (not just ad agencies) across the U.S. Pretty much anywhere "creative" is used as a noun, or in conjunction with the word "executive." But no one has ever had the insanity/brilliance to film it before. (Why let the cat out of the Vuitton bag? Why???)

So thank your lucky stars for your South Parks and your Onions, and of course, this.

(gets off soapbox, goes back to making sausage)
posted by turducken at 2:48 PM on August 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Game
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2006


I've read some comments here that the vid is only interesting to agency people, but let me say, on behalf of all agency people everywhere (except account execs), that this video is not interesting to us either.

It reminds me of Trump's hackneyed "Apprentice" train-wreck, wherein newly minted MBAs with frontal lobe damage opine about "advertising" and "marketing" and attempt various feats of stupidity in order to promote a "client's" products, apparently unaware that the show itself, not their passionately incompetent constructions, is in fact the ad, and they are merely bit players working below SAG minimum.

The dolts at Agency.com are trying to capture that feeling of passionate incompetence - and I think on this level they have succeeded. Their crappy video is really the ad here, they don't care about the subway pitch (did they get it? Anyone know?), and may in fact have damaged their chances with this daring assault on common sense and decency. In the end, this video may succeed in winning Agency.com some new business with people who have lately come to realize that the internets have continued to exist, even after the debacles of 2000-2001.

Anyway, sorry about the rant, let me close with this here thought here:
Virals are the new billboards.

Or this one:
There are no virals.
posted by Mister_A at 2:54 PM on August 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is my first MeFi post hope you like it.
posted by skrike at 4:20 PM EST on August 3 [+] [!]


Don't listen to the haters, skrike! Someone liked your post. In fact someone liked it enough to mark it as a favorite! Way to go on your first post! Let's see who:

1 user marked this as a favorite:
skrike August 3, 2006 4:20 PM EST

. . . Oh. [Emily Litella]Never mind.[/Emily Litella]
posted by The Bellman at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2006


The Bellman: its people like you that make me glad I didnt post my own photoshop tennis contest from back in the day among the links. Nice detective work sir!
posted by skrike at 3:00 PM on August 3, 2006


However you feel about marketing, etc. I think we can all agree that Subway subs sucks ass.
posted by delmoi at 3:06 PM on August 3, 2006


So... I watched the video and... wish I hadn't. 9 minutes of my life that I wish I had back. As previously said in this thread, there's no way that anyone would pass this on, unless they were in marketing. And then, it would only be to say, "Hey, look what the n00bs did! L0LERZ!!!!!oneeleven"
posted by drleary at 3:09 PM on August 3, 2006


Hah, the coudal response was hilarious.

As for the agency.com thing. God. I don't know how anyone could sit through the whole thing. I skimmed it to get the flavor. Bleh.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on August 3, 2006


Kate didn't get the single most important thing about a Subway sandwich: namely that you have to fold the little pieces of meat when you lay them in there.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:18 PM on August 3, 2006


I'm telling you, try the vegetarian ones. Seriously. Much better.
posted by reklaw at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2006


I am a former Subway employee (from High School) and I didn't like the video.. does that count?

And all the sandwiches suck. :\
posted by mileena at 3:43 PM on August 3, 2006


I'm telling you, try the vegetarian ones. Seriously. Much better.

The problem is the bread. It's so soft and the whole thing just gets squishy and falls apart. Try Jimmy Johns sometime.

I haven't had subway in a while but I remember when their chicken marinara came out it was like, the blandest "marinara" sauce I've ever experienced. As for a veggie sub, well, why would I eat a veggie sub in the first place? And secondly, how could anyone screw that up? It's just veggies and bread right? Not much of a challenge.
posted by delmoi at 3:52 PM on August 3, 2006


It's just veggies and bread right? Not much of a challenge.

Veggie patties. That's where the action is.
posted by reklaw at 3:59 PM on August 3, 2006


I've worked for a few (geomatics contracting services) companies in the past whose presidents were dreamer types who really had no idea what the fuck they were doing - stuff that sounded cool was right up their alley. One of them came in one day when I was new and told me that I needed to have something 'fucking cool' on the go at all times so that when he came around to my cube and said 'show me something that's fucking cool' I'd have it right there.

God I hated that job. These agency.com people remind me of that guy. The idea of a viral ad sounds fucking cool, so we'll call our ad 'viral' and it'll spread like wildfire and we'll all get rich even though nobody thought anything through at all and nobody understands in the slightest what it is they're doing.

If I were there in that boardroom I'd run, screaming. Fuck the two weeks notice, fuck the stuff at my desk. Screaming.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:01 PM on August 3, 2006


It's time to watch Truth in Advertising!
posted by unSane at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2006


Subway makes the best Italian cold cut sub in my neck of the woods. I've never ordered anything else from them, nor do I have any desire to, because their Italian cold cut is just about as close to perfect as I'm going to get.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:34 PM on August 3, 2006


Going through the many links from the first link of this post, I found these, my favorites: Breastfeeding ad which caused quite a stir, a 20 year-old anti-crack PSA featuring Pee Wee Herman, the trailer for Borat's movie (he kisses his sister and proclaims her to be the #4 prostitute in the country as she proudly holds up her silver cup award, smiling) due out in November, the original "Aliens" movie trailer, which if you haven't seen for a decade or two, is worth watching again, Leo Burnett's Cannes predictions for commercials with 50 entries/links to the ads (Guinness won) and my favorite from the list, which he rated very low ( but won a Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival this past June), "Skating Priests" for Stella Artois, a brilliant, Chaplin-like, black-and-white "silent" film with Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody 2.
posted by sluglicker at 5:18 PM on August 3, 2006


My experience with marketing agencies suggests that a lot of them have a huge problem understanding what a viral video really is. They seem to get stuck at the "it's a video that's on the internet" level, and fail to understand that you can't just make a regular ad or trail, stick it on YouTube, and expect it to spread like wildfire.
posted by chrismear at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2006


What chrismear said. I have a fair amount experience with this, and I can't tell you how often I hear the phrase "designed to be viral" from advertisers, agencies and new media types. It's sad/funny/pathetic how quickly they try to latch onto a current trend and think that they know what this whole "viral" thing is about.
posted by dhammond at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2006


OK, I had to become a MeFi member (after being a reader for two years or so) just to post in this thread.

I worked for AGENCY.COM. From 1997 to 1999. First off, I don't recognize a single ONE of these dipshits, but that's not surprising, given the ridiculous turnaround at that joint. In the 1.5 years I worked there, I went from being the new guy on the British Airways team to the veteran member. (No, wait -- there was one tech guy nicknamed Traff, so I was second-oldest member.) I thought they were kind of clueless and stupid then, but I wrote it off to them shrewdly taking advantage of the general public's stupidity about The Internets, especially in the insanity of the late '90s.

This, however, shows they've just become another goddamn moronic mid-level ad agency, essentially, a place that never heard about the mythical man-month. Just throw more dumbfuck ex-frat/ex-sorority motherfuckers at the job and it'll somehow get done. I just moved into a yuppie neighborhood in Baltimore that might as well be populated by ex-ACOM shitstains. (The neighborhood's Canton, for any Bodymore MeFiers . . . though if you're local, you probably could guess by the description.)

There's something criminally wrong about a person having the ability to even GET so damn worked up about a CORPORATION. Especially when it isn't YOU getting the $150 to $200/hour to work for them. (Not that money should be your sole motivator, but if you're going to do such demeaning shit, you might as well look at the money.) No wonder I never cared for marketing/MBA jackoffs (unless they're the rare type who can cynically make fun of their profession).

Of course, I was fired from the place, so take all this with a grain of salt . . . anyway, I'm far, far happier nowadays, being my own boss, working 2.5 days a week on a really busy week, and making more than twice what I made there . . .

(OK, that last paragraph was probably kind of unnecessary.)
posted by CommonSense at 6:31 PM on August 3, 2006


Well that's just it - at the heart of it the ad needs to be different or interesting or shocking or intriguing enought that people want to tell each other about it, thus transcending the original delivery medium. The internet makes this easier, but it doesn't have to be the internet.

Where's the Beef is a good example. Subway! Apply directly to forehead!
posted by jimmythefish at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2006


[And so the virus dies a quick and noisy death]
posted by Outlawyr at 8:51 AM on August 4, 2006


Try Jimmy Johns sometime.

Tarnation! I never thought I'd actually want to go back to Michigan, but it would almost be worth it for a sammich from Jimmy Johns.
posted by thedaniel at 11:38 AM on August 4, 2006


Did we see the re-edits?
Douchebag Mountain and Benny Hill.
posted by dabitch at 12:40 AM on August 5, 2006


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