For the past few weeks I've been obsessed with a YouTube channel that has been around for about three years.
It's called Pronunciation Book. Launched three years Pronunciation Book posted their first video entitled "How To Pronounce ASUS".
And they went on from there, posting almost 900 videos.
They started with what seemed like random words at first, then in April of 2012 the videos started to get a little stranger.
Then on July 9 things took another turn.
That's when people really started paying attention to this channel that has been chugging along for 3 years. It's been counting down for over two weeks now.
The mystery is enough to suck anyone in. Something is going to happen on September 24, 2013. But what? Are you sucked in like I am?
No one knows for sure what this is, but there are a lot of theories. There is also a Google Doc where people are collecting clues and trying to piece them together, as well as blogs like Into The Deep that are keeping interested geeks like me up to speed.
So what exactly is this thing? Whatever Pronunciation Book is or will be, it is the latest ARG to hit the web. According to Wikipedia an ARG, or alternate reality game, "is an interactive network narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses tans media storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by participants' ideas or actions."
What that means is that the ARG is a story, where there is a storyteller who gives clues and progresses the story, and the participants or viewers work together to put pieces together and solve the puzzle.
The first ARG that I remember seeing was done in anticipation of Nine Inch Nail's 2007 album, Year Zero. It started with a phrase on a t-shirt, that led to a website about a drug called "parepin". Later, a fan found a USB drive in a bathroom stall at a venue where Nine Inch Nails were playing that night. On the thumb drive was an mp3 from the then unreleased album.
Rabid Nine Inch Nails fan worked tediously, examining every single bit of information that came out, which eventually lead to a secret show from Nine Inch Nails.
You can read more about the Year Zero ARG at 42entertainment.com, the company responsible for the Year Zero ARG campaign. Watch the video there, it's an insanely intense marketing campaign.
These ARGs are usually reserved for really geeky and technical audiences, so how can you use these techniques for your small business? The scope and budget may be way out of the ballpark for you and your business but that doesn't mean that you can't utilize their tactics.
Story is king. Whether it's a one-off piece or an ongoing campaign, your marketing need to have the that story that pulls people in. A cohesive narrative in your marketing helps people relate to your business and your products.
For example, check out this commercial for Internet Explorer. It has a lot of great looking visuals and a fun pop song behind it.
Did you ever think a commercial for a web browser could make you tear up? This goes to show you that you can connect people to any kind of product, even something as pedestrian as a web browser.
What about razors? Dollar Shave Club made a video for their razors and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to give them a shot. Their narrative is that men's grooming should be easy and that it "shouldn't cost an arm and a log" (please excuse the potty language).
Don't get hung up on all the video examples here. Remember when the power went out during the Super Bowl? Oreo knocked it out of the park with this award winning tweet.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
It's a simple story that Oreo has been telling for years. Their cookies are great dunked in milk. The timing was perfect. Out of all of the millions of dollars spent on commercials that night this graphic that probably took a designer a few minutes to create is what people were talking about.
Remember to always think about the story in everything that you're doing. We're here to help you write your narative. We'll be waiting while we enjoy some Oreos and milk.