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Royal Roads University’s Interactive Marketing Stunt, The Future of Advertising

Michigan Creative

Everybody knows that a testimonial can work wonders for acquiring new business, but anyone who has seen their fair share of late night infomercials would agree that they often seem overly scripted and forced. Through conventional media outlets, such as TV and radio, testimonials lose a lot of credibility because the audience does not have an opportunity to challenge what is said, as one could through face-to-face human interaction. Apparently, Canada’s Royal Roads University agrees and their latest stunt is definitely turning heads.

The university set up a digital information kiosk in a local mall displaying what looks like a recent alumnus LinkedIn profile, showing her career achievements, and a giant touch screen ‘Connect’ button. When curious passersby attempt to connect to the digital profile, a secret door slides open, revealing the live alumni hidden inside the kiosk! After the brief stage of obvious shock and disbelief, the conversation shifts to Q&A about her alma mater. The casual face-to-face conversation makes the testimonial much more believable and easily caters the conversation toward the individual’s interest. Not to mention, cramming yourself into a tiny box to promote your university is already saying a lot.

This seems to be the new trend in video and interactive advertising. Go out into the public, make a lasting impression on a small group of people, then post the stunt online. Seeing the unscripted reactions and emotions of the random strangers plays on our empathy, developing a similar brand image in our heads, despite only watching it vicariously. Just look at the success of the coffee shop stunt last month, promoting the 2013 remake of Stephen King’s Carrie. Or Pepsi’s ‘Uncle Drew,’ though its getting kind of old on it’s third installment. Pure advertising gold.

If you are planning on executing a similar video with hopes of it going viral, here are some tips to make it a success:

Play on the strongest human emotions

Fear and love. Both seem to have extremely profound, lasting effects on us. If you are able to genuinely evoke these emotions out of your crowd, chances are your message will not be forgotten. Look at the power of the London’s anti-drunk driving PSA and Coca Cola’s ‘Look at the world differently‘ campaigns respectively.

Make sure you are representing your brand correctly

As fun as it would be to go out and terrify strangers, to later reveal they were on a hidden camera shoot, it may not be the best choice of action if you are trying to advertise for say, homemade baked goods. Make sure the emotion you are capturing fits your intended brand image and tells a story about your brand or product. Toronto creative agency, John St., depicted this perfectly in their spoof video, ExFEARential.

Focus on audience reaction

The reason these videos go viral is because the way they are shot gives the viewer the feeling that they are there watching in person. No matter how elaborate and stunning your stunt is, if you dont capture your audience, it just doesn’t seem real. We want to see the people whispering between their friends in disbelief or scrambling to their smart phones to record a developing flashmob.

Share, Share, Share!

Even the best video wont be a success if it can’t reach the general public. Get out there on all of the social media outlets and let your work be seen. Don’t count on just one, viral videos rely on word of mouth, so the more people viewing your video the better. Generate traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Vine, Instagram, the list goes on and on.

Follow Up

It is often hard for people to realize that creative minds are behind every great project we see online. After a while consumers begin to see a brand as a lifeless entity. The best way to give your brand character is to go back to your content and respond to comments, answer some questions, and show off some personality! Tesco Mobile, a UK cell phone provider, is notorious for their outside-the-box twitter battles with customers and other companies! It seems to be working wonders for their image.

Good luck going viral!