On April 10th the world was shocked by a controversial viral video!
Can you imagine Dennis Quaid, America’s premier friendly father-figure actor; the best supporting male of the Independent Spirit Awards, was screaming obscenities on what appears to be a live film set? Seemingly unbeknownst to Quaid, his full freak-out was captured by somebody’s cellphone and promptly uploaded to YouTube on April 10th. There was no way anyone could have mistaken this footage for a trailer of his new film, or any other reality show. This was clearly a recording set to showcase how celebrities that can sometimes be really rude people.
So what really happened?
This “leaked” video hit Youtube and Reddit on April 10th and quickly made the rounds, triggering a heated debate. Some people believed that the video was a new Jimmy Kimmel prank, unlike Christian Bale’s previous freak-out recording, which was comprised of a number of very real F-bombs; this new Quaid video looked too staged for some, hinting that it was probably a comedy skit. However, after Jimmy Kimmel denied his involvement later that night, the overall consensus was starting to lean towards a real freak-out. “That was a solid freak-out,” one person of Reddit wrote. “His voice never waivers, he nails every hilarious insult he throws out, and the peaks and valleys of the loudness of his voice is perfect.” So did Dennis Quaid actually have his Christian Bale moment? The Jury was still out on that one.
However, the very next day, to the dismay of many internet patrons who were convinced that the video was real, a longer follow-up video was posted on Funny or Die’s YouTube channel. This new video confirmed what many were suspecting from the beginning... it was all a hoax!
At the start of this 4 minute clip, Quaid was apparently becoming increasingly irritated after the director continuously interrupted his acting. Things then took a more unexpected turn when a man in an actual penis costume began walking up slowly behind the director, catching the attention of Quaid, who was in the middle of his take. “Dopey the Dick” then proceeded to talk with the director, completely distracting him from the live scene being shot. This is when Dennis completely flips out, shouting “this is the most unprofessional set I have ever been on.” Quaid then went on with his angry rant, yelling at some people literally covered in zombie make up and a real basket full of kittens, storming out of the set, slamming the door behind him. It was all fake! Great job Funny or Die, this was truly a successful viral marketing stunt.
Why was Quaid’s viral video such a success?
In the end, the video turned out to be a publicity stunt for Funny or Die, and a hugely successful one at that. Funny or Die did a great job balancing humor with tension, resulting in an entertaining yet provocative video that was ripe for controversy and debate.
This only goes to show that in today’s day and age, innovative brands are becoming smarter and more aware of how to leverage social media and viral videos to increase exposure. While some may questions the ethics behind such stunts, claiming that it’s wrong to utilize deception as a marketing tool, no one can argue the amazing results it brings.
This explains why viral marketing is becoming a growing trend among hip brands that want to quickly, and cheaply attract more eyeballs. Funny or Die did a really good job in doing just that. Within a few days they managed to catch the attention of millions, albeit through unconventional means, and in the end, whether we like it or not, they got exactly what they wanted: explosive brand exposure with minimal spending for marketing.
You can call it viral marketing; you can call it deception, or even growth hacking… Call it whatever you want, one thing is for sure, as long as it still works, companies are going to try to replicate it. And from what we’ve seen so far, this new powerful form of viral marketing doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.