Awareness is everything.

It may seem like a long time since we heard anything about #TheDress, last week’s viral sensation.

But a charity has turned interest in the Blue & Black or White & Gold social media conversation into a powerful message about domestic violence.

This picture was tweeted by the Salvation Army in South Africa, which said one in six women are victims of abuse.


I think it’s an outstanding use of social media to drive campaign message brilliantly and it was quickly conceived and executed. Sure the dress was “so last week”, but can’t we have it both ways? Can’t someone be clever and still make a difference in someone’s mind? Can’t someone turn #TheDress debate into something meaningful?

The stats on this campaign state 1 in 6 women suffer abuse. That’s enough for a campaign to end violence, don’t you think? Piggy back off of anything that will give the cause attention. Keep the momentum going, bring your issue to the forefront of people’s minds when the opportunities present itself. Ride on viral trends and aid discussion of issues which would otherwise get swept under the rug.

Sure, it could be better. We’re encouraged to ‘see’ the bruising, but no information is given about how to actually help women living with Domestic Violence. The campaign doesn’t link with any direct benefit to women’s organisations, refuges, services for women experiencing DV. But so many people have seen (and spoken) about this ad that even if only a quarter of them donated, I’d still consider it a success.

Is it the perfect way to campaign around an effort? Probably not. Viral is fleeting. Smart marketers don’t always chase viral. But there is a time and a place and I think the Salvation Army of South Africa did a good job at leveraging a meme that worked.

What do you think? A powerful advert or a bad idea?

– Atekka xo


The Secret to Going Viral

In today’s digital world, to be noticed you have to step outside the box and do something that might seem risqué. Whether it’s a red button that unleashes drama or a devil baby, guerrilla marketing stunts are the secret to going viral.

We Know Drama

In 2012, the American cable channel TNT created “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square” to promote its launch in Belgium. The network put a big red button in the middle of a quiet Belgian square with a sign reading “Push to Add Drama.”  When the button is pushed, drama ensues and it is incredible! It’s produced by one of the leading agencies of guerrilla marketing stunts in Europe, Duval Guillaume Modem and has since become the second most-shared ad ever.


Duval Guillaume Modem declared that “A dramatic surprise on quiet square” gathered over 10 million YouTube views and 1 million Facebook shares in less than 24 hours, and since then it’s been viewed over 48 million times. The video research company Unruly has listed it the second most-shared global ad of all time; to date it has been shared over 4 million times. The only one with a better result is the 2011 Super Bowl ad from Volkswagen called “The Force”.

Another goal of the campaign was to generate national press coverage and it also passed this target with flying colours. As outlined by Duval Guillaume Modem, all major Belgian media (including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines) reported on the stunt and it was even picked up by several international media outlets, such as ABC News, The Sun, Deutsche Welle, Financial Times, Forbes, The Morning Show and Time Magazine.

“A dramatic surprise on quiet square” has also been widely recognised by the advertising industry. The awards range from nine Lions at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes (including five gold) and one Epica’d Or at the International Advertising Awards to one gold award at the IAB Mixx Awards and eight awards at the European Festival of Creativity Eurobest in Lisbon.

Marketing Magazine looked into the popularity of the ad and explains the phenomenon by several sharing triggers, which are packed into this less than two minutes long video. In addition to being surprising and offering a twist on the familiar flashmob phenomenon, it is spectacular, funny and smart. In the campaign’s first couple of days, it also benefited from being picked up by highly influential sites 9gag and Reddit, which significantly boosted its social-media spread.

Devil Baby

Similarly in January 2014,  the people of New York were getting scared out of their wits by a demonic baby popping out of a stroller with horrific screams and projectile vomiting. OK, so it isn’t a real demon baby. It’s a remote-controlled animatronic creation that surprised random New Yorkers while hidden cameras captured their reactions. And it wasn’t just a prank; the stunt is actually a viral promotion for found-footage horror movie, “Devil’s Due.”

The video is the creation of Thinkmodo, the NYC-based viral marketing company that’s been grabbing attention online for three years. They “hacked” the giant video screens in Times Square to promote the Bradley Cooper thriller “Limitless.” Then they made it look like flying people were soaring over Manhattan for “Chronicle.” And last October, they started an online sensation with their “Carrie”-inspired prank where an actress appeared to wreck a coffee shop using telekinesis (actually, it was all practical special effects). That video went on to be viewed over 52 million times on YouTube.

Interestingly, there weren’t any hurt feelings from the victims of the prank. Thinkmodo founder, Michael Krivicka, told Yahoo News, “People were totally cool with being in the video after getting the living hell scared out of them. Each reaction ended with a laugh, and everyone loved the look of the baby.”

Playing it safe

Now my issue is why aren’t more brands learning from these lessons and jumping on board? I understand this medium isn’t suitable for every brand however for many it’s the perfect solution. For my recent Zombie brief, we took inspiration from the TNT commercial and came up with a concept of a zombie stunt in Manchester, UK. We thought we were on to a winner, it had all the ingredients to successfully go viral. However when we pitched the idea to the clients, they weren’t convinced. They argued that too many people would be offended, it would cause disruption and even the police would to get involved.

I’m puzzled how you can release a Devil Baby in New York City but a few Zombie actors in the UK is not practical?

What do you think? Are brands playing it too safe or are pranks overused?