Lazare Calls Viral Videos “Small Potatoes”

Lewis Lazare has been watching videos on YouTube. However, it’s premature to say the old man is down with youth culture, for he didn’t much like what he found there.

A publicist, all lathered up, contacted us about what he believed to be a truly mind-boggling event happening online: a new video called “Tea Partay” from BBH/New York that debuted at earlier this month. The video, directed by Julien Christian Lutz, who has done music videos for artists such as Usher and Foxy Brown, is intended to promote — in a very roundabout way — a hard ice tea product called Smirnoff Raw Tea.
According to the tracking numbers at the site, more than 600,000 visitors already have viewed the raw tea video, a number the publicist considered incontrovertible evidence that said “Tea Partay” has become — in just a matter of days! — an instant viral smash hit, even though that number of hits is still small potatoes compared to the millions of television viewers who might be inclined to watch a really great commercial that would air once during a really popular prime time network program.

While I like to kid Lazare, I share some of his scepticism about so-called viral videos. For one, there’s an assumption that such things can be consciously created. No. Viral, by definition, refers to means of transport. A viral is something people pass around. Hence, it can not be created. The audience, not the content creators, determines what’s viral and what is not.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. while the viral aspect of a video cannot be created, that does not mean that talented individuals cannot conceive of videos which are more likely to ‘go viral’. it is actually remarkably similar to TV advertising. the best TV commercials are ones that become a part of the culture (they get talked about at work, people quote lines from them, etc.). you can’t create those reactions, but you can certainly recognize that it takes a certain level of work to elicit them.

  2. When Lazare speaks of the “millions” of people that TV spot could reach, the thing he doesn’t take into account are the 600,000 that were captive viewers online. There is no way of knowing how many of those “millions” watching TV actually would see and remember the spot. Posting on youtube saved Smirnoff millions of dollars and got more effectiveness in return.

  3. I just got sent the movie from my friends who aren’t even in advertising, so I guess it’s working.

  4. Krishna Williams says:

    Lewis Lazare’s AARP is showing. Tea-Partay is very entertaining (less so than SNL’s Lazy Sunday but far more so than Lazare’s own column) and I believe it passes muster as a viral video because this thing has been bouncing around like crazy (email, other video hosting sites etc.). The biggest problem for Smirnoff is their lame website Whether it results in additional sales remains to be seen, but as far as awareness this video is working.