Viral Videos Do Not Happen – They Are Caused

I see ad people. Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.

T-Mobile Conquers Trafalgar SquareI have blogged about flash mobs in the past, both in its purest form (Improv Everywhere creating street performances just for fun) – and in its commercial form (T-Mobile trying to cash in on the trend). If you do not share my notion on mind share, that’s fine. A reader of mine (which may or may not work in an ad agency) actually called these public space disruptions an “experiential advertising that actually provides real value for the audience”. Yeah, right. Reading blogs like the one by Israeli ad agency Mizbala gives you a scary glimpse into the psyche of these people. They actually call these well-funded acts ‘guerrilla marketing‘.

A couple of hours ago I received an email from Unruly Media, a London-based “viral video seeding specialist that works with global brands and agencies to harness and engage the social web”. I thought posting the email would shed some light on the behind-the-scenes activities that make a video go viral. All emphases mine:

From: Sal Azar < [redacted]>
To: Shahar Golan
Subject: Early Warning: T-Mobile Flash Mob Assets Available to FRGDR Tonight
Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009 5:57 pm
Hi Shahar,
The next T-Mobile flash mob is happening tonight from 6-7pm in Trafalgar Square, London. It’s the follow up to the hugely successful T-Mobile Dance in Liverpool Street and we’re hoping to have live footage from the event edited and available within 2 to 3 hours of this evening’s event.
We want to make sure that the video is with influential bloggers and online commentators as soon as is humanly possible and we will send you a link to the content (and additional campaign information) the moment it’s edited and uploaded.
If you’d like me to send across the video source file or if you have any other questions about the campaign, please feel free to drop me a line.
We’re also looking for partners to run the clip (and the official TV ad when it launches next week) on a commercial basis. I don’t know whether you’d feel this was appropriate for FRGDR, but if you’re interested, we can give you a video player to embed, pay you an initial fee for posting the video and a small additional amount for each UK view of the clip. If this is something you’re interested in doing, please drop me a line and I can send you details of how to sign up for the campaign on the Unruly Network.
If you want to check us out, please take a look at We adhere to a strict code of ethics, which you can read here:
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions, and if you’re anywhere near Trafalgar Square between 6 and 7pm, come along and join in the fun.
Kind regards,

Continue reading Viral Videos Do Not Happen – They Are Caused

Memes, Mind Share and Minimizing Public Space

Enjoy watching this wonderful video, before reading why I absolutely hate it:


Now I’ll do the unthinkable and quote myself:

The war over mind share rages on and in the very near future it would be impossible to leave your home without stumbling into an advertisement, and most of the time you won’t even know you’re in one.
   – – Shahar Golan, January 18, 2009

We are living in the age of über-fast memes, where an idea in the real world can be documented and uploaded to YouTube, watched anywhere around the world, and ‘downloaded’ back to the real world in another country. The following timeline is just one example of how this ‘cultural virus’ can spread:

January 2008
Improv Everywhere does Frozen Grand Central.
February 2008
The original stunt is duplicated all over the globe. A world map of copycats is soon enough posted for easier tracking.
March 2008
Improv Everywhere performs an original musical stunt titled Food Court Musical in front of a small shopping mall audience.
April 2008
Television’s Law & Order: SVU incorporates a fictionalized Frozen Grand Central into an episode. Actor Robin Williams plays a fictional Charlie Todd.
January 2009
T-Mobile executes a ‘Thawed’ Frozen Grand Central, mixing the Food Court Musical stunt into it and rebranding it as The T-Mobile Dance. The video is the first successful commercialized version of the stunt.
March 2009
VTM, a Belgian television station executes a Sound-of-Music T-Mobile dance.

And the dance will continue…

The fact that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is one of my favourite musicals is irrelevant. For all I care Julie Andrews could have danced right there on Antwerp’s Central Station, holding hands with the entire Von Trapp family – it still would not change the fact that we are losing the war over mind share and over public spaces.

The 3D hologram shark ad that startles Marty McFly in Back to the Future’s 2015? The ads that personally address John Anderton in Minority Report’s 2054? Why wait for hi-tech advertising, when you can get stuck in a real world commercial today? Just try and catch a train in Antwerp, New York or Tel-Aviv in the near future.

Oh… and if you’re thinking of avoiding the train all together by driving to work, better think again: KFC logos will soon be sprayed all over the road.

You can read more on this subject in Kalle Lasn’s excellent book Culture Jam: How to Reverse America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge – And Why We Must.


Yes, I do realize that by blogging about it I add to the hype needed to perpetuate this phenomenon – but just like people printing books about the dwindling rainforests, there is just no other way of stopping this.

The T-Mobile Dance: When Frozen Grand Central Meets Evolution of Dance

Since traditional advertising ceases to be effective, I am afraid the future is made out of quote-unquote guerrilla marketing like this T-Mobile ad just shot on London Liverpool Street railway station. The war over mind share rages on and in the very near future it would be impossible to leave your home without stumbling into an advertisement, and most of the time you won’t even know you’re in one.

It is a loathsome, offensive ad. Yet I can’t look away:

Check out T-Mobile’s Life’s for Sharing YouTube channel for prep videos.