What better way to celebrate the new year in China than by hand-delivering lobster by limousine, and broadcasting the whole thing live over the internet? That’s what online seafood retailer Gfresh did in January to gain itself a little exposure over the holiday period, and to set itself apart from its competition.
The company wanted to make a statement that the traditional wholesale market model was changing, that the internet and borderless commerce are the new wave of retail.
To make sure their gimmick was seen by hundreds of thousands, and to lend themselves a little internet credibility, they recruited a genuine internet celebrity and let them broadcast proceedings as part of a daily live streaming video blog.
The stunt may have been a little over-the-top, but an internet celebrity is a spot-on choice to portray a shift in traditional values. It’s a lesson that may well be copied in the U.S., home to some of the biggest online-only stars in the world.
A New Kind of Star
The American equivalents of Chinese live streaming stars are the often anarchist video bloggers, talk show hosts, and performers that have made YouTube Live and YouNow some of the most interesting sites on the internet.
These do-it-yourself broadcasters are generating millions of dollars of revenue every month, and command regular audiences numbered 250,000 and above. They broadcast everything from structured talk shows and musical performances to stream of consciousness ramblings and Truman Show-style watch-me-while-I-eat-sleep-or-ride-a-bus reality programs.
And they have a real influence on their audience–that audience, by the way, prefers to be labeled fams” rather than “fans,” as they feel a close, family-like connection with their heroes.
That kind of devotion, inspired by the raw authenticity of an unpolished product, has led to many leading internet stars getting sponsorship and endorsement deals. So surely we can expect to see the Chinese limousine-lobster trick tried in the U.S. sooner rather than later.
Advertising on Live Video
The one failing these YouNow stars have in communicating with their fams is that the talking only goes in one direction. The audience can only join in via live messaging, and such is the demand to connect that those messages can appear on screen for only fleeting moments.
It takes only a minor step sideways, however, to add live video chat to the platform–with a minor miracle of crowd organization, of course. That would make these talents even more accessible, and create a whole new dynamic of performance and presentation for them to exploit.
And it could be a great way for the YouNowers to step into the world brand ambassadorship.
Manufacturer Logitech unveiled its new webcam earlier this month–what better way to get the crowd that regularly uses such devices to communicate excited about a new cam, than to pitch a YouNow star switching over to two-way communication.
It might be like announcing the arrival of the Talkies in 1920s Hollywood. Logitech, or any other webcam company, could set up a star on an existing platform like Google Hangouts, and have their audience join them for the first live two-way interaction.
While the fams get to speak to their idol for the first time, that idol just has to mention the camera they’re using to power the performance and Logitech gets a star endorsement from someone with a real connection to their market.
It doesn’t need to be a tight link between product and placement, however. The anything-goes nature of YouNow means you could tie in just about anything–like lobsters and limousines.
YouNow for Business
David Letterman once peppered an entire show with vignettes of people dropping stuff off a five story tower. That may not seem like an ideal way to promote a product, but it’s actually right in the sweet spot of amateurish stunts YouNow stars go in for.
So why not give your latest line of candy Easter eggs over to YouNow endorsement and have one of its stars take video chat requests on which egg to drop off their apartment building next?
It’s got to ring true to be effective, and having an unrehearsed host suddenly launch into an advertising read is not going to work. But desecrating an Easter egg would be quite believable.
Keeping that aforementioned two-way video call communication open lends an extra edge to the whole stunt, and it will no doubt shortly be made available for those who can control their fams. Why not have a famous singing duo cover a song from a newly released CD every week–complete with impromptu audience backing singers?
Or have an award-winning YouNow celebrity play a live-action game of hide-and-seek in Central Park with their audience members, sporting a new brand of flashlight, sneakers, smartwatch, or GPS.
Anything’s possible if you allow a little bit of spontaneity and anarchy into your marketing strategy