Bacteria Builds Disgusting Viral Marketing

It’s always enjoyable when you see someone having fun with the product they’re marketing while they are also doing a decent job of actually marketing the product.  In this day, we see quite a bit of disgusting elements driving viral.  In Toronto, marketers have been having quite a bit of both in the past couple of weeks.

It’s not hard to be squeamish about the marketing of Warner Brothers’ film, CONTAGION, on the streets of Toronto.  To market a film about the fast-moving virus, Lowe Roche advertising agency of Toronto and UK-based CURB Media got their hands quite dirty to create a living, viral Out-Of-Home ad out of bacteria.

To me, it is not only a science and marketing experiment, but arguably a work of art. Once you get past the disgust and bewilderment that people would actually subject themselves to the creation of bacteria and viruses in the name of marketing, it is actually pretty cool as you see the transition in the video.  I am both saddened and happy that they only did the execution in one location.  They say that the bacteria was harmless, but can it really be that harmless?  Check out the detail they were able to achieve with the organic microbes in the red toxic signs that appear.  It was perhaps the coolest use of those toxic icons since the 28 DAYS LATER Theatrical campaign from Fox Searchlight.

Luckily, they captured the “event” on video and posted to YouTube. The live billboards are no longer up (after 5 days of being “live”), but the views hit 40,000 just two days after posting and now, five days after posting, it seems like it is garnering around 1,000 views per hour on the main YouTube posting alone.  It is also growing views on Facebook and Twitter.

It seems like they timed the placement to coincide with the Toronto International Film Festival to maximize foot traffic, but I would have looked to launch it earlier so that the video could be placed earlier and have the time to generate much more buzz for the opening weekend.  Having the video post only two days before street date is not ideal – regardless of how viral it is, really and digitally.

We can only hope that this does not lead to a rash of “harmless” and disgusting viral mareting, but to entertaining and relevant forms of communication for the products we are trying to market.


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