It would come as no shock to see that #sharkcat went viral.
Almost 10 years ago, a Houston woman named Helen bought a shark costume for her Pit Bull, Sharkie for Halloween. When the costume turned out smaller than she anticipated, Helen dressed her Siamese cat, Max instead. The aloof feline soon jumped atop the family Roomba robot and begun to ride around the kitchen. It was the kind of footage the internet immediately falls for, and the subsequently titled, #sharkcat, meant huge publicity for Roomba.
Max didn’t soon tire of riding the Roomba, and nor did people tire of watching him. Plus, the world of the videos quickly expanded. Before long, Max was riding the Roomba beside a band of friends, who enhanced the virality even further. Sharkie, now dressed as a duck, watched Max hover around the room with a goofy smile. A pet duck joined too, quacking incessantly. Soon, a bunny came along, and even a flock of chickens. When Helen gave birth, and baby Spencer joined the mix, the wholesomeness reached a new high. Especially when Spencer donned a shark costume of his own.
The series were a viral sensation and Roomba held a sustained presence within it. It’s the kind of exposure marketers dream of, and the team at Roomba didn’t have to lift a finger to get it.
In a world of rising consumer distrust, brands are constantly looking for novel ways to gain exposure. And sometimes consumers are the best bet for getting it.
The most influential element driving purchase decisions today is word of mouth (WOM). WOM marketing is when a consumer’s interest in a company’s product or service is reflected in their daily dialogues. Brands who feature in these conversations reap the rewards, even when it happens accidentally (Roomba).
Spotify have always been good at this. Their yearly Spotify Wrapped feature creates little personalised testaments to consumer appreciation for their brand, that are eagerly shared by hundreds of thousands. Wrapped also allows Spotify to flex its sophisticated data sets and refined user insights.
Omnichannel expressions of gratitude shared by users essentially said: “look how much I love Spotify and look how well Spotify knows me!”
Yesterday, TikTok extended its foray into WOM marketing too, ahead of the Cannes Lions Awards. Aware that its videos don’t fit specific award categories, TikTok created a platform to showcase its users through its own celebration, the #CreativityForGood hashtag challenge.
TikTok wrote in a blog post on Monday:
“The goal of this challenge is to showcase artistry, expressiveness and individuality—much like Cannes Lions does each year—while allowing the TikTok community to participate and highlight their unique vision for giving back. We’re asking participants to think outside of the box and dream up new, fun and unique ways to showcase the non-profit of their choosing.”
Channelling their userbase’s socially aware nature, and perhaps a propensity for narcissism/virtue signalling, TikTok have essentially outsourced their marketing and brand-building to its users. It’s a cheap, efficient way to have your users sing your praise, and it’s earned them a seat at the table at Cannes.
We are navigating a consumer landscape in which everyone can promote a brand, often with remarkable influence. This is a trend that has been developing for some time, burgeoning into an environment where defining or detecting an ad is becoming increasingly difficult, because every brand wants a #sharkcat.
Final word from our culture manager
Being Culture Manager of Pesel & Carr means I bare many responsibilities. Recently, my good looks, honourable reputation and sustained sense of professionalism earned me a role on a serious piece of branded content (the details of which will soon be revealed).
I’ve been told that I brought a sense of authenticity to the content, and that my presence instils a sense of trust in viewers. In other words: it was a huge success. I was a huge success.
It’s got me feeling empowered. I need to spread my paws. If anyone is looking for a brand ambassador, I am their dog. I am particularly interested in working for SCHMACKOS™ and other pet-treat related businesses, assuming the work comes with free products.
If anyone has any leads, please hit me up via the instagram page.