Excursion into liminal space


118_glade_1_2 118_glade_2_1
Spotted at Glade Festival, July 2006.

OK so I'm slightly biased as I used to work on this but I still think the 118 vests were brilliant.

Being a geeky type, I often get asked about virals and that. To which I tend to reply viral is a thing that happens, not a thing that is.

If people pass your communication on, it's viral. If they don't, it's not. Sometimes I get calls saying this viral isn't performing very well - what's the problem? We've seeded it to all the right places, it's on youtube and everything - where's our traffic? The problem is usually that they've made an ad that contains nothing people consider worth showing to their friends.

Unless you would be willing to send whatever it is to your mates - it's not viral!

On the website for Coca-Cola's answer to Red Bull, Relentless, they have even labelled their movie clips as viral 1, viral 2 etc, which demonstrates a truly baffling misunderstanding of how viral communication works. Particularly as nothing about the movies makes them worth sending on. Let's say it together - viral is a behaviour!

Specifically, it's a parasitic behaviour - where the commercial / brand message is piggybacking something else that is being passed on - usually entertaining content / social currency.

Which brings me back to vests. The 118 118 launch campaign happened 3 years ago this summer and it contained a number of viral elements including web films and that. But the bit that was most viral, where consumers became the communication vector, was the vests. In this instance, they aren't even consciously passing anything on - they are just wearing a vest.

People nicked the vests and like the vests and wear the vests when it gets hot.

And so the virus continues to spread - anywhere hot that people congregate - they appear. I still see them at festivals all over England.

I've even seen one on Bondi beach in Sydney. That makes it a pandemic.