Everyone's embracing YouTube these days, from Tennessee gubernatorial candidates to accidental local news stars to car companies. And now even 80's action star Sylvester Stallone has embraced YouTube, by destroying it.
I love clever twists on YouTube marketing like this—particular this kind where the player isn't a real YouTube player, and the entire page is part of a giant Flash animation.
So here we have Stallone, being interviewed by some woman named Shira Lazar in front of a poster for his upcoming film, The Expendables—like you've seen a million movie stars do when they're making the rounds to promote a new movie. Halfway through his answer, the "stars" of the "related videos" to the right all pull out guns and aim them toward Stallone—he even gets those Hollywood red dots on his chest from the laser sights.
And he reacts in a way that I suspect his Expendables character would, by blowing them to smithereens:
Of course, the video page isn't a normal YouTube video page, but is instead a page-sized Flash piece designed to look like a standard YouTube page. This allows the creators to do things like… well, having the related videos interact with the main video… or destroy the entire page with grenades.
Unfortunately, it also means that I cannot embed this ad, so you'll have to click here to see it in action—don't worry, it's worth the extra effort.
I can't help but wonder if this is a taste of the future. I first saw this kind of fake-YouTube-page advertisement back in late 2008, when Nintendo used the technique to promote their game called Wario Land:
Just a month ago we saw Google themselves, YouTube's parent company, put out an ad for their Chrome browser that was actually not a standard video player, but was instead a Flash-based video quiz. It was amazing.
I can't help but think that Google's Chrome ad was, at least in part, intended to help brands think outside the box a little. I wonder if Sylvester Stallone saw that ad and started getting his own ideas.
Could the future of online video ads be ads that aren't even video? Not likely. But it's possible. Would you even call this a video ad? It's not a traditional video player, but it contains video swf… and it's an advertisement.
As Old Spice has taught us recently, in the mother of all Internet Marketing lessons, the brands that break free from the current mold of online marketing are the ones that get the attention. Twisting convention and playing with expectations gave both Google Chrome and The Expendables an experience that brands would die for—catching the viewer off guard. Advertising is largely about staying top of mind with consumers, and an advertisement that makes the viewer stop and stare in awe at some unexpected twist or action is one that makes a more lasting and memorable impression.
Of course, that same effect can be achieved with content alone if it's funny or shocking or entertaining enough. But it sure is fascinating to see the same creative license taken with the actual delivery device—the medium itself. I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg for whatever the next big wave in viral video marketing turns out to be.