Fade in to cereal cascading from a bowl. A hip-hop beat kicks in as the camera pans over a filthy carpet festooned with Cheerios, discarded toys and up into a close-up of an attractive Uggs-toting young mother who breaks into a 3 minute rap about the joys of motherhood. She lays down lines details the pros as well as the disgusting cons of family life, which include “eating leftover fishfingers” and “carrying a sack of sick and snot” where once there was a designer handbag. The four minute video was created to promote the Fiat 500L, (a small 5-door minivan which boasts the tagline “It’s time to grow up…or is it?”) and underscores Fiat’s attempts to brand the 500L as a vehicle for affluent young thirty-something families who still see themselves as very much allied with youth culture. The video, which features actress Rachel Donavon, who despite the rap’s lamentations of the lack of glamour engendered by child-rearing, looks expensively blonde and what the writers of this advert would probably call pimpin’ in her skinny jeans. The spot has only been up for just over a month and has already racked up over 2 million views on youtube and these numbers are nothing to sniff at. So, what can we learn from the execution of this campaign?
1. Youtube is an ideal medium to reach young families
Youtube is one of a small arsenal of digital products that make modern parenting slightly easier. The bite-sized chunks of video are ideal for keeping toddlers engaged and the amount of choice – whether the kid is into found footage of diggers or hours of Peppa Pig means that parents can curate exactly what they and their offspring watch. With time-shift technology here to stay, television is no longer the best place to engage with the kind of demographic that Fiat is hoping to court. By tailoring their campaign particularly to the online video, Fiat has ensured that its investment in the high production values of this video are not wasted.
2. When working online, embrace the ‘Superbowl’ strategy
When working to go viral, the hook of an advert should be in its innate conversational and entertainment value rather than a showcase for the product itself. In the same way that Marks & Spencer and, especially John Lewis have built a certain sense of expectation and excitement into the unveiling of their Christmas adverts and the adverts that are aired during the Superbowl are examples of the product taking a backseat. Indeed, although the classic clichéd hip-hop videos kind of run on the ostentatious display of luxury, the Fiat 500L, although featured prominently, is not explicitly name checked. It is not until the end of the advert that most viewers realise they are watching an advert. The sense of personal discovery and endorsement is key when it comes to making a ‘shareable’ piece of online media.
3. Design the post-film click-through menu with social sharing in mind
The viewer might not know they’re watching an advert whilst they’re bopping along to the mummy-rap but once the film is over, a dynamically designed end menu makes it an easy transition to the Fiat mailing list or the product’s FB page. Too many viral campaigns miss out on valuable click-throughs because they bury their social information in the video blurb rather than creating a clickable link within the video itself. Fiat was canny enough to save its links until the end of the video rather than inundating the viewer mid-watch. This is the kind of trick that the 2010 Toyota ‘Swagger Wagon’ campaign (which is, in its white affluent family hip-hop video, basically conceptually identical to the Motherhood campaign) missed when it attempted instead to layer on a narrative world and additional short films rather than going for the burst of viral energy that linking the video immediately to Facebook enables.
So, whatever you think of the campaign (some find it a delightful exploration of motherhood’s foibles and subtly subversive with its line about ‘faking orgasms’ whilst others find it reductive and unbearably smug), there are certainly key aspects to its success which we can all learn from. Word.