The Art of Bad Marketing

One of my favourite marketing campaigns is unequivocally the badly acted, crudely shot made for local tv ads. While these ads are usually made for local tv, they always manage to find their way onto the internet and becoming viral hits. The first one that comes to mind is the classic 2011 Ojai Valley Taxidermy TV Commercial, more commonly referred to as the “Chuck Testa” video.

And most recently the Furkids Animal Rescue Shelter Ads, which went viral early 2017 and led an increase adoption of cats and greatly improving brand awareness for the brand.

The same applies to the Chuck Testa ad, wherein brand awareness increased exponentially. So this raises the question, if these cheaply made ads can be made viral and bring in large amounts of business for the brand, then what’s the point of spending money on large marketing campaigns?

What can we learn from Budget Ads?

According to this article by True Digital Communications, there are four marketing lessons we can learn from the Chuck Testa Ad:

  1. Not a lot of resources is needed
  2. Not about production value
  3. Audience focused
  4. Seizing (passing) opportunities

That is to say we don’t need a lot of money, resources, time or sophisticated marketing planning to create a viral hit. You just need to create something fun and creative and it’ll be shared around. Sometimes the best kind of planning is no planning at all and taking opportunities as you see them, and in our highly digitised world it’s much easier to do so, we hear about current trends faster and can react to them much faster with the internet. Thus making highly successful marketing campaigns, and while that may be true for Chuck Testa and the FurKids Ads, but, of these viral ads how well do the actually work?

As stated earlier, while the video was a viral hit, increasing brand awareness and word-of-mouth you might ask, “well how successful was the ad?” The main aim of marketing is ultimately to generate a profit for the company, and post chuck testa video going viral, the Ojai Valley Taxidermy Company saw a total increase of 0 sales.

Wait that can’t be right?

Almost 5 Million views (at 30th of September, 2011) and not a single sale.

What does this tell us?

Well it shows that yes we can make a viral internet hit that everyone sees, but if it doesn’t generate profits then what’s the point? What you want is a video to become viral, but aligns with your target audience so that it leads to them actually taking action. The issue with the Chuck Testa ad is that it yes it’s  a funny video for everyone to watch it doesn’t accurately target those who’d actually buy his services. As this David James blog pointed out, the ad would’ve been better if it was more targeted towards their main consumer base.

Which shows we still need marketing plans and can’t wing it. Even the FurKids low-budget ad was created by an outside consultancy agency that understood what kind of people would take action and adopt their animals. Marketing plans are needed in our digital world as they help narrow down our plans to be more targeted, especially within the digital world where anyone can see it, so we can reach the right people with the right methods, the internet is merely a tool that enables us to reach a larger and wider audience of people who may purchases our goods and services.

Ultimately, while becoming viral is nice and definitely what marketing companies should want their ads to become (in the positive way and not the negative way), it is not the correct or only approach marketers should be taking. We also need to make sure the video aligns with the business goals, the audiences needs and wants and leads them to take action. But these budget viral ads do teach us that we don’t need an overly sophisticated or expensive plan, just one that is smart and accurately targets the right people.

So do you think we should be aiming for budget viral hits or keep to extensive planning or do we need a blended approach that combines the best features of both methods?

Comment Below and see you all next time.


This article by Bandt shows more reasons why we need marketing plans: Ten Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Plan

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3 thoughts on “The Art of Bad Marketing

  1. I don’t think that all advertisements need to have a large budget, but it really depends on what they’re trying to sell. For example, a car brand such as Toyota would have to spend a larger budget to create an advertisement. I don’t think a “home-made” advertisement such as the ones you’ve sourced would work for Toyota (I could be wrong!). However, McDonald’s recently released advertisements staring Mindy Karling about “that place where Coke tastes so good”. The ads were short and simple but got the message across to their consumers. So, I think to answer your question… It really depends on what the advertisement is selling. After you’ve established that, you can decide on what type of method to use.

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    • Exactly! Ads with large budgets can become just as viral as those with a small budget (vice versa), but it’s mostly about understanding your market and what you want to achieve. The Chuck Testa ad had about a $50 budget and became big but didn’t see a rise in sales for him, mostly because the ad wasn’t appropriate for the type of consumer he was after. Whereas something like the Old Spice ads had a large budget and went viral but worked fantastically because they understood their market.

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      • Also in response to your comment about homemade ads for Toyota or other big brands, I think they could work. But they’d have to be ads made by the consumer (strokes of luck) where it puts the brand in a positive light and doesn’t require any effort on the business part. Or even just a simple homely ad about how great Toyota is for families could be appropriate.

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