This month a company called Hostelworld brought to life an idea that was first suggested, in jest, on the TV show I'm Alan Patridge 18 years ago. It has been a stroke of genius.
I'm Alan Partridge has a cult following. In the episode in question Alan is in a meeting with TV executives and there is a risk that his show is going to be axed. In a panic he comes out with a number of ideas, one of which is 'Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank'. It is a preposterously funny idea and image.
Fast forward nearly two decades and television and advertising has changed significantly. Few people now watch scheduled TV and so marketing needs to stand on its own two feet. People no longer watch adverts, they have to seek them out because they are being talked about. Hostelworld's idea hit the mark.
The company are similar to AirBnb, but their niche is Youth Hostels. Their video on Youtube has been watched over 200,000 times and that is not a huge number compared to some viral campaigns. However, it is a lot for a company which many had not heard of before this one idea. There has been chatter on Twitter and Facebook and the campaign has been successful. It is also early days.
This is a good example of the sort of cool content that companies need to create in order to stand out in the noise. No doubt marketing people will be scanning old episodes of series with a niche following in the hope of coming up with something similar(In the same scene Partridge also suggested Monkey Tennis) but it would unoriginal to follow suit with that, even if monkeys could be trained to play tennis.
These are the sorts of ideas which come from creative meetings attended by people with a diverse set of interests. Once a good idea is found it can be fairly cost effective to turn it into something that might go viral, and you do not have the advertising overhead that a TV ad would have. This levels the playing field, so smaller players do have an opportunity to compete with the large corporates who have a budget.
Could you come up with an idea that could give your company a viral hit?