Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

[Posted by Peter Kim]

In the summer of 1999, I was subletting a place near Harvard Square
while working at Fidelity Investments.  Near the end of the summer, my
high school friend Dave moved to Cambridge to start his first year at
HBS.  This was back when a book like Year One was invaluable, way before every student could blog
about the experience.  One of the things I found most interesting about
the first years was that walking around the dorm, many had replaced the
school-issued name on the door with business cards from their former
employer - McKinsey, BCG, Goldman, etc.

I met up with Dave one day after work at an orientation happy hour
at John Harvard's.  One of the people I met had previously been working
in corporate finance for Paramount Pictures.  We discussed, among other
things, the profitability of movie sequels.  Sequels are almost always
profitable.  Why?  Among other things, they draft off the visibility of
the lead, even if it tanks.  Assets can be reused and budgets more
accurately scoped.  Distribution can bypass the expensive theater route
and go straight to DVD or PPV.

So what does this have to do with marketing?  It has everything to
do with branding and it's simple to make a connection with today's
"viral" videos.  (I had a great conversation with Sam Ford from
Peppercom/MIT last week about why the term viral is a misnomer - but that's a story for another post.)  Think Dove Evolution and Onslaught,
for example.  At the time of writing this post, Evolution has 7.1
million views; Onslaught has 0.2 million.  So is Onslaught a failure?
No way - it's generated a ton of attention and surely Ogilvy didn't
have to work nearly as hard to publicize #2 as #1.

Well, Kris Hoet from Microsoft Belgium emailed to let me know that a sequel to "The Break Up" has launched.  Even if you don't know the name, you've seen this video.  Now "Inspiration, Anyone?" is out - and has been since June 8th.

And I haven't heard anyone talking about it.Inspiration, anyone?

I don't know if it is just hasn't penetrated the echo chamber of
marketing blogging or if most people have seen the sequel and thought
"meh."  Or perhaps it hits too close to home for agencies - they can
get very defensive, very quickly - e.g. check out this post.
Maybe it just needs time.  Some people have told me they think the
first was successful because few people realized Microsoft was behind
it.  But Dove was behind the Campaign For Real Beauty and that didn't
seem to matter much.  Microsoft's making a point to sell more
advertising services, Dove's making a point to sell more beauty
products.  Maybe we can chalk it up to B2C vs. B2B.

If you haven't yet seen the sequel to The Break Up (it's 3:38 in length), I'd love to get your thoughts on why it does or doesn't work for you.

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Comments

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Nice Peter nice ... bustin' out a sly Public Enemy reference. Not sure if it was intentional, but it motivated me to read it.BTW ... the sly Public Enemy reference goes like this:"Don't believe the hype - its a sequelAs an equal, can I get this through to youMy 98's boomin' with a trunk of funkAll the jealous punks can't stop the dunkComin' from the school of hard knocksSome perpetrate, they drink Clorox">> DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE (1988) <<

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Hi John - nice catch. To tell you the TRUTH [#34] PE has been in my mind for the past month, as I'm in Boston and our C's just won their 17th NBA title with Ray Allen aka Jesus Shuttlesworth knocking down 7 3's in Game 6. And you remember the movie that got him that nickname and who did the theme song, right?I didn't have it in me to play the entire analogy through, so I left it at the title. :)

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Peter,I'm glad you brought this up. We actually blogged about it the other week at GrokDotCom in a post called "3 Things Viral Videos Must Do To Make Money". http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/06/17/viral-video-marketing-campaign/There are a few suggestions in that post as to what a video campaign needs can still be funny while connecting the dots for the viewer.It's funny. I can't tell you how many posts I saw about "The Break Up" last year (we certainly did one), but I still had no idea that Microsoft was behind any of this. So maybe it was a hit because nobody knew it had to do with Microsoft Digital Advertising, but that alone is almost enough to say that it wasn't a "success."Everything about "Inspiration, anyone?" is spot-on -- the topic, the tone, the scripting, the execution -- other than the fact that they do absolutely nothing to sell the benefit of their product or to explain anything about it. Does that make it effective in terms of branding or demand generation? We'd have to know some real numbers and metrics to figure that out, but the irony here is that this campaign reminds me of an entertaining TV ad that makes a broad point about a problem then does little to make its point about how to solve it.Am at a loss to see what's so "new media" about this approach.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Hey Peter-I think the reason why no one is talking about the Inspiration Anyone video is because it sucked. We got a brief respite from thinking Microsoft was a dumb, humourless corporation with the first ad, but this one, apart from a few funny jokes and that lead guy, who's again really funny, just shows a tin-ear for what's really going on.-Ollie

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Hi Robert, Hi Ollie - thanks for the comments. The good (depending on one's perspective, I guess) news is that Microsoft is listening to the comments - hopefully they'll take the feedback to heart.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Hi all, thanks a lot for the comments...and we will take this feedback to heart. As I said here: http://www.weconverse.com/2008/06/23/i-cant-get-noo-inspiration/ we are listening and are behind with the content on http://getinspiredhere.net. We will try to bring inspiration and to answer Robert we want to try to change the perception, which I think worked a bit with the first campaign. In the 2nd part (inspiration, anyone) we wanted to go from conversation to participation. To be honest , that has not happened yet but we will try. Next step is of course to walk the walk and talk the talk, which means showing how Microsoft Advertising can help marketeers in the digital arena with our products and services...and that my friends is for the 3rd step in this campaign ;-) We're not there yet but we're trying!

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Hi Geert - thanks for jumping in. Great to hear that you're listening...and taking a humble approach about it, too.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Thanks for the reply, Geert! Like Peter said, I too am glad that you're listening and taking a humble approach. I also want to reiterate how impressive the scripting and direction is on this campaign. You've address the problem brilliantly. Now, obviously, the tough part is to make a solid product tie-in without losing the campaign's mojo -- easier said than done.Good luck to you and the Microsoft Digital Advertising team! Anyone who can help strike a balance between traditional agency-think and the starry-eyed 2.0 evangelists deserves a big round of applause if they can pull it off.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

Pete, you forgot to mention that most sequels are lame--they take what was good about the original idea and beat it into the ground or forget to be funny--(that's why Shrek 2 was such a delightful surprise and Shrek 3 was too painful to sit through).The sequel is trying to hard, needs to be edited down to half its length and doesn't cover any really new ground. While all good Forrester analysts know you can't make something go viral good tight creative that makes you laugh out loud sure can help.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

And just in case I sounded way too mean and cranky--I should acknowledge that while it's really easy to comment on it's really hard for anyone to do. No offense meant to Geert meant.

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

None taken, Lisa!

re: Don't believe the hype (it's a sequel)

nice ..good job...nice blog