Tuesday, May 15, 2007

People Still Want Reality

Survivor made television history as being one of the first reality shows on primetime network television. (I think The Real World on MTV was the first real reality show, but who's keeping score?) Since Survivor and Richard Hatch's win, television has gone on to produce hundreds of reality shows and rekindle the game show as a source of prime time entertainment. While many cited reality television as simply a fad, others have noted the strength of reality not simply in the economics (sometimes 20% of the production budget on a scripted show) but also in the fact that the audience has an opportunity to determine the outcome sometimes (ala American Idol). It appears that audiences want more and more power and when you hear someone in the theater screaming "Don't open that door!" they really mean it.

Well that's great that reality is here to stay, and there's been a bunch of horrible shows out there in the genre and there's been a few that have become part of our culture (The Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, and of course American Idol), but what does this have to do with marketing? You may remember LonelyGirl15 the YouTube vlogger that was outed as being scripted, and racked up hundreds of thousands of hits all the while. There's been the Subservient Chicken, where you can control the chicken via a text box. Recently I noted a "Text Your Own Adventure" Spiderman video on YouTube. And even more recently, the Diesel Underwear marketing campaign, where two "Heidies" capture a Diesel salesperson and lock themselves into a hotel room for five days. Visitors to the site were able to communicate directly with the girls by asking them to write their names on the guy's flesh, singing a song, and just about anything, similar to Subservient Chicken. There was no explicit branding but a lot of Diesel underwear as product placement. Reports were cited that traffic to the site spiked to five times its normal traffic.

So that's it. A reality interactive commercial, creating an interactive event (you can communicate LIVE) without any scripts (clearly since you can ask them to do anything) with a great branding campaign (all of the beautiful people in the video in their Diesel underwear). The two hottest trends out there reality and interactive combined into one. Will we see more of these campaigns? Absolutely. But I think we'll also see more combinations of interactive commercials scripted or reality using the Internet as enabler. We'll see....

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