Real Men Don't Fake It

Most Viral Videos Are Stupidly Pointless [Here’s Proof]

If viral content doesn’t produce new subscribers, leads, or customers, what’s the point?

New viral content comes out every single week of the year. Most viral videos are quickly forgotten after their 24 hours of fame — even if they garner millions of views and hundreds of editorial mentions during that time.

Remember the summer of 2010 when everybody was talking about that clever Old Spice commercial… the one where the guy closes the commercial with, “I’m on a horse”?

I haven’t bought any Old Spice because of that commercial. And Ad Age concludes that Old Spice’s bump in sales during that time was more likely due to “unprecedented levels of promotional intensity in the category” rather than the commercial itself.

Now there’s a relatively new viral video to promote Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara.

The video is in really poor taste (or “cheeky,” as Claudia Allwood, U.S. director of marketing at Benefit Cosmetics, says), but will it sell anything at all?

Oh, but it seems I’ve made a mistake. Apparently, sales are not the goal. Mashable reports:

Although there’s a call to purchase towards the end of the video, Allwood says that impressions and buzz — rather than sales — will be the true markers of the video’s success.

If it’s impressions and buzz we’re after, why not march some models down a busy street naked? It’d be a lot easier, and nearly as effective at grabbing eyeballs.

Of course, by only seeking impressions and buzz, the company risks offending current and prospective customers, which it seems they have done quite well.

The majority of the comments below the YouTube video and the Mashable article are negative. For example:

“This current ad is just gross! I am insulted and offended! Bye Bye Benefit!” -Susan Kuykendall

“Losing me on this one, Benefit, big time! Stick with your fun, sassy image. Or you could always get Miley Cyrus to be your next spokesmodel.” -agcbeaglemom

“Benefit, nix this commercial. I’ve always loved Benefit: the tongue-in-cheek marketing and especially the packaging and, let’s not forget the wonderful products. But I’m finished with Benefit. Don’t you think there is enough out there belittling women. I’ve never seen a woman lick her lips over a bulge (maybe I hang around with a different class of people). I would think Benefit would be above this type of crass advertising!” -LadyNellieGrace

There are hundreds more comments like these.

But hey – it’s all about buzz and impressions! What could possibly go wrong?

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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