Use Your Head

Viral Marketing: Also known as Word of Mouth Advertising. Any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, thus creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Just like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, even to millions.

A young Danish woman entreats YouTube to help her find the man with whom she spent one ill-planned night that left her with a lovely baby boy. The video goes viral, spreading around the world and pulling in hundreds of thousands of views. Surely one of those thousands can help her find the child’s father?

Possibly – if he existed. It turns out the whole thing was, inexplicably, an advertisement created for tourism agency Visit Denmark. Once the stunt was revealed, plenty of people were embarrassed about having been tricked – and Danes were offended that drunken promiscuity was being used to promote their country. The original video had nearly a million views before being taken down. Now those are a million viewers who may have been annoyed or offended (and as we all know, nothing on the Internet every really goes away).

So what was the point of trying to trick them all, again? YouTube viewers love to speculate over whether something is real or fake, but no one likes to be the butt of the joke. It might be tempting to create a really wild video that will skyrocket your brand – but make sure you won’t be ashamed of having it tied to your name in the long run.

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