Home Blog Online marketing strategy Are flash mob videos the new “I have no strategy” Bat-signal?

Are flash mob videos the new “I have no strategy” Bat-signal?


A couple weeks ago, the Carlson School of Management released a holiday flash mob “viral video” on YouTube. If you live in Minnesota, you’ve probably seen it by now. Take a gander (it’s actually featured on their home page right now).

Not bad, right. Well produced. Well done. Inspirational, in fact. Kudos, CSOM. But, here’s the thing. Does it make you want to plunk down 25K (arbitrary figure–most likely not accurate) to go to the Carlson School of Management for a year? Probably not. Did it raise awareness for the school? Maybe.

It was passed along a lot the last couple weeks (and now sits at 900,000-plus views–nearly double what it was just a week ago). But, in what context? As a great/inspiring holiday video, sure. So, I guess that would be great if it was a church trying to spread the “good word.” As a business school? I’m not sure that helps a lot.

In fact, an exchange with fellow local PR counselor, Jennifer Kane, resulted in the following tweet:

We don’t know if Carlson employed an agency to do this work. And frankly, it doesn’t matter. But, Jen’s statement hits pretty close to the mark, I think. Not just for agencies–for everyone.

Think about it. Carlson most likely either spent a pretty penny paying someone to produce this video, or their internal video team spent a lot of time organizing and producing this video. Either way, the “cost” of this video was most likely fairly high. And, what did that cost get them? A lot of views on YouTube (900,000-plus)? Great. But, did it refer traffic to the Carlson Web site? We don’t know–possibly. Did it raise awareness for the school? Again, maybe. Did it put butts in the Carlson seats over on campus? I’m not so sure. And, if that’s the case, why do it?

I’m not trying to throw Carlson under the bus here–after all, they’re one of the most respected institutions in our great state. And, they’re clearly not the only organizations that have fallen prey to the lure of the “viral video.” But, I just can’t help but agree with Jennifer here. Is the mere appearance of a “viral video” proof that a brand or organization has given up on an actual online marketing strategy?

It’s an interesting discussion. What do you think?



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