For anyone still wondering whether brands have found their way into the consumer psyche on the most visceral, street level, they should have a look at this:
A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Square
If you’re not one of the 23 million-plus people who have already seen this video, it’s basically a street event organized by the movie network TNT to promote its launch in Belgium.
It takes place in a quiet square in a town in Belgium. A passerby pushes a button – under a sign that says “PUSH TO ADD DRAMA” – and all hell breaks loose. The event, which went viral on YouTube and a very wide blog network, is promoting the fact that TNT provides great TV drama.
Apart from the pure creativity, what is really remarkable – and very telling – about this story is the way people in the street reacted. Five or 10 years ago, we surely would have heard gasps and seen frightened faces and people running for cover.
We see none of that. In fact, people are intrigued and receptive. They are ready for anything, which only shows the degree to which consumers have come to embrace, and maybe even expect, brands to be speaking to them on this level of immediacy and intimacy.
Such experiential marketing, fuelled by social media, has made the brand experience more real, more perpetual and more ubiquitous than ever before.
So, is this TNT brand initiative a commercial?
Not in the traditional, 30-second, glossy-actor-filled sense of the word.
But in today’s marketing environment, where anything and everything can become a commercial message and find a mass audience, the TNT stunt-turned-video is a perfect example of where one part of our commercial world is heading.
At a time when one of the world’s most famous painters, Banksy is a graffiti artist whose identity is not fully known and whose work you can’t really buy, we need to appreciate how much the rules have changed. We are at a crossroads, where still half of our commercial messaging continues to be carefully polished, high production value product – and there’s certainly a place for that – but where also, the other half, is increasingly raw and unfiltered.