In a world where social media is ubiquitous – Facebook is currently the third largest ‘country’ in the world – do we really know how private our profiles are?
It’s one thing to think about this in an abstract fashion, but it’s something else entirely when we see someone accessing our information and driving to our very location.
This is the context that Jason Zada provided for us with his Facebook app 'Take This Lollipop', which physically showed how easy it is to access information we assume is private. And, by using a rather creepy looking actor, just the right amount of drama was added so that people would sit up and take notice. And boy, did people take notice.
In the first 24 hours of the app going live, 300 000 people had signed up and within just 30 days, 10 million people had liked the app – making it Facebook’s fastest growing app of all time. As of the beginning of 2013, over 100 million people have interacted with the video – showing the power of a strong story.
See how Facebook Users Reacted to 'Take This Lollipop'?
Take This Lollipop did incredibly well at awards shows too, winning a Webby Award, a Clio Award, three One Show Interactive Pencils, four AICP Awards, an Art Directors Club award and two awards at SXSW.
But Take This Lollipop did a lot more than scare people about their Facebook usage, it also pushed the boundaries of interactive video and showed how storytelling can be taken one step further with all the tools we now have on our hands. While this app was a personal initiative, it serves as a great piece of inspiration for brands looking to produce communication that is not only responsible, but also fresh and innovative. According to Zada, it has already served as an inspiration to others in the space, “…It seemed to ignite a bunch of Facebook Connect enabled storytelling. From music videos to PSAs, it got people excited about creating personalised entertainment.”
What Zada holds important above anything else is story, something we can all learn from – especially with the current advertising landscape. We know that consumers are savvier than ever before, and we also know (in our heart of hearts) that most people just don’t like ads. The time for arrogance from brands is over – the idea that people should flock to your brand, or your brand’s communication, simply because you have presented it is flawed and really quite hubristic. Consumers want something in return for their attention, and while before cheap gags and laughs were good enough – now they are just hollow.
Zada stresses that while story is vitally important, in the age of the Internet sometimes getting something off the ground is the most important thing, especially if you’ve got a good feeling about it, “I wrote the script in a few hours, shared it with Jason Nickel, a developer I work closely with and a week later, I shot it. It was a great exercise in thinking less and doing more. It felt like a good idea and we ran with it. I showed people the cut and I don't think they quite got it. It wasn't until we FB Connected it and people saw pictures of their loved ones and children being creeped on by the stalker.”
The biggest lesson here (and please let’s all agree that you cannot by any means guarantee ‘virality’) is to not be afraid. If you’ve got a good idea and it seems a little strange or a little out there, we have the tools available to make it happen. The only limit to us as creatives in the industry is our own imagination. If we can work with great ideas that do good at the same time – we can create lasting communication that makes a real difference – for business, people and the planet.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Zada which should inspire us all, something we should remember every day, “It’s really an exciting place to be as a storyteller.”
So, do you make ads – or do you tell stories?
Words by Thomas Kolster, founder of the Goodvertising Agency.
If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.