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 www.youtube.com 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 youtube.com 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.

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About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.