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Being Bold on Social Media is About Risk Versus Reward
Posted on January 14th 2013
There is plenty of vanilla out there. As someone who explores various social media campaigns, techniques, and strategies on a daily basis, it gets pretty boring seeing the same old things being spun in slightly different ways. When something truly fresh comes along, I normally applaud.
When I saw Fiat's attempt at being bold on YouTube, I had to watch it again. And again. Each subsequent viewing I went deeper into analyzing what they were trying accomplish with the clever rap. They wanted to go viral, that was certain, and it worked. They're approaching 3 million views. They also wanted to relate to a demographic, and they probably did to some extent by mentioning many of the trials that mothers face when they transition into motherhood.
The only thing I couldn't figure out was whether or not the risk was worth the reward. They didn't hold very many punches, mentioning controversial topics such as fake orgasms and itchy thongs, and the funny play on words talking about dogs and gardening equipment as "bitches and hoes" brought the full spoof factor into play right from the beginning, but can it really do anything other than garner a few laughs and knowing nods of agreement? The challenges faced by mothers were never shown to be addressed by the stylish Fiat 500 other than the fact that this particular mother liked to drive one.
The risk, of course, is that some people will be offended. It's as clean as a spoof like this can get but there will be those who get a negative vibe about the brand as a result. This is fine and any time you take a risk with social media you're going to make people upset but there needs to be a greater reward potential to counteract the negatives.
Unfortunately, the video does not do enough to get positive sentiment for the brand. Mothers may associate with the video, even feel the pain, so to speak, but the positioning of the brand within the lyrics and visuals is not enough to bring the association full circle.
When Toyota came out with their Swagger Wagon video nearly three years ago, they did much more to accomplish the same goals. They created a video through which parents could relate, but also centered it around the vehicle itself. It was effective on both ends - controversial and funny enough to be watched (over 11 million views) without running the risk of offending many people. The Sienna was front and center through most of the video and not just a subtle background statement for the sake of lifestyle association.
Even the name itself was much better. There are those today who likely still call their vehicle their "Swagger Wagon", whereas Fiat naming their video "The Motherhood" does little to keep the video or the branding going once it falls off of people's buzz radar.
Creating a viral video for the sake of going viral is no longer an effective technique. It helps somewhat with branding, but even in that regard Fiat is too subtle without being powerful about it. There's nothing wrong with subtle branding when done properly. Pantene had a viral video that didn't mention the brand or highlight its effects until the end of the 4-minute video. It was effective because the storytelling throughout was powerful and the final minute where the star's hair is highlighted ended at the peak of emotion when the brand is finally revealed.
Fiat was close to having a successful video. Had they worked in the brand into the song itself, toned down some of the potential negatives, and showed that the vehicle represented some level of freedom and expression that their target audience craved, the effects would have been much better.
Watch the videos and you be the judge. Did they work?
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