Guerrilla Marketing Case Study: Angry Nerd v. Robot in Trivia Death Match at Comic-Con

WIRED’s Angry Nerd, Chris Baker, challenged the WIRED robot at Comic-Con International San Diego 2013 to take a trivia test about all things robot.

In addition to being fun, this video follows the content marketing formula that I teach to my film marketing students:

The protagonist represents the core audience (for WIRED, "nerds") overcoming an obstacle that this particular niche audience can identify with (nerds are drawn to the challenge of mastering new technology) in a short fun video with a subtle marketing message (in this case, "WIRED gets us").

This particular formula (a spreadable video where a protagonist - representing the core audience  - overcomes an obstacle that the core audience wants to overcome) is one way of creating online marketing that fans might share.

I love the WIRED robot (whose presence at Comic-Con I've already enjoyed through other viral video). And I love this particular video.

Yes, I'm sharing this video because it's a great example of content marketing and I want my film students to think about how it was created and how the marketing message rides along with the entertainment.

But, if I'm honest, my motives for sharing this video also include a desire to buff my own online reputation.

Like all content that spreads from user to user, I think my friends and potential online friends might enjoy what I'm sharing. And that enjoyment will reflect back on me...

In other words, in addition to my educational mission, I'm sharing a marketing message for WIRED not because I like WIRED, but because I want to be liked by my friends (who might enjoy this video as a kind of gift - a gift that does't cost the sender much, except the act of online social sharing).

Understanding why videos get shared online (in this case, my motivation includes wanting to be acknowledged for my ability to discover and share messages that entertain and matter to my tribe) is a skill that all 21st century indie filmmakers should develop.

Despite recent Hollywood excesses, giant robots, especially those who riff on pop-culture in knowing ways, remain hugely entertaining to me (and apparently to certain segments of the world's movie-going population).

I'm not a particular fan of the Transformers series of films, but I look forward to future episodes of the WIRED robot franchise. This threatening but also companionable mechanical giant is a great character (in short doses). And I think (hope) there are other people in my online tribe who will feel the same way. That's the essence of how content spreads online.

Insights into how motion pictures spread in the 21st century may seem self-evident to digital natives.  But many Old World filmmakers (and Old World film educators) are still having trouble grasping how content circulates online.

Understanding the New World of motion picture circulation via social sharing is something that every filmmaker working today should understand... and practice.

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