Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

What Marketers Can Learn from Susan Boyle

In Ideas on April 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

By now you’ve probably heard of / seen Susan Boyle, Demi Moore’s favorite new singer. Boyle’s performance this past weekend on the UK’s Britain’s Got Talent has been burning up the Internet. If you haven’t seen it, here you go:

That video has more than 8 million views – in four days! That’s the kind of instant critical mass that marketers dream of. That’s the kind of attention that make CMOs tell their agencies, “I want a viral video like that.” But of course, we know that’s not how it works.

What all these shows – American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. – do, and do well, is create a framework for opportunity.  Sure, we’ve all heard of Susan Boyle now, but can you name the other contestants who were on the show with her? No, of course not. Heck, you probably didn’t even know the show existed before you saw the clip on YouTube. But by creating a framework where authentic talent could florish, the people behind the show gave themselves the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle.

brit-got-talentThink about that the next time you launch a campaign. Are you relying on one slick, overly-produced video, or are you open to magic coming from some place unexpected? In 100 years, nobody would have picked Susan Boyle to be an Internet sensation, and that’s part of the reason she has become one.   

Unexpected and unplanned is not something many marketers are comfortable with. That’s why when it happens, it explodes. Those few marketers willing to take the risk are greatful for the many marketers that would rather play it safe.

  1. Mashable are now reporting that the Susan Boyle performance has been watched over 47 million times. I have also just looked at (and posted) ‘Susan Boyle’ results from Google Insights and it seems that people are searching her out all over the world.

    I think the key point for people to remember though is that this probably wouldn’t have happened had she not had the framework that you refer to. Susan Boyle’s performance was shown during Saturday night prime time, on one of the UK’s biggest TV shows. 10.3 million people watched her wow the judges and it was all over the papers the next day – that’s what gave Susan the initial momentum and without this push I assume that Mr.@aplusk (and 47 million others) would still be unaware of her!

    Think this is a great example of how success comes from socialising your traditional content rather than purely setting out to ‘do something with social media.’

    (Also love your redesign!)

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