Marketers, Will You Fail This Awareness Test?

by Thomas MORADPOUR on January 20, 2011 · 6 comments

This, is an awareness test. How many passes does the team in white make?
A very simple brief… I’ll let you watch the video, do the test for yourself, without spoilers.
Trust me it’s worth it.

How did you do?
If you’re like me, you proudly made it to 13 passes, and of course, totally missed the moonwalking bear. I was blown away by this clever British advert today. I actually had to go back to the first half of the video to check that it was not a trick.
It wasn’t.


‘Magical’ will take you very far if you want your content to spread. Who would have thought that an ad for road safety could go viral and hit 12 million views on YouTube? I certainly would not have placed money on that one. This film will go very far, because it is simply remarkable – as Scott Stratten loves to say, “People don’t share Meh, they share Awesome.”

You don’t need to write code to turn marketing into gaming. This advert works by making you an active participant in the story, right from the start, through a challenge you cannot easily ignore. It’s a simple game anyone can play by just looking at the screen as the film broadcasts. All this is done inside a “traditional” ad, and still captures the full engagement of the audience. Why? Because good advertising – like this – always starts with ideas, not technology or tactics.

There’s plenty of ways in business to miss moonwalking bears. Taking a departure from the mind boggling example in this ad, there is of course a bigger learning there. It’s easy to miss cyclists on the road because you expect to see cars, and that’s what you’re focusing on. Sometimes, too much focus is your enemy – this is true on the road, this is also true in business. Think for instance about how you measure market share or track your competition within your industry – something marketers do every day (or should anyway). It’s very easy to miss a moonwalking bear product coming from outside, as an new alternative to your whole category – for instance, my daily obsession is cola share, but I’d be ill advised not to stay aware of what happens in teas, juices and beers. It’s always a good idea to keep awareness of what happens on your periphery.

Scorecards can be your worst enemies. Finally, a bit of a controversial thought, although I hope you will agree. This ad tricks you by setting up expectations that what matters, are passes in the white team. They set a target, a Key Performance Indicator to track, a scorecard of sorts… something businesses do every day. Of course, we fall for it, because “counting” is so hard-wired in us. But here’s the problem: while you track what you planned to count, you can literally lose track of everything that is not on your scorecard. Are you sure the scorecard focuses on what really matters? How do you deal with something wildly unexpected coming into the frame, that the scorecard doesn’t even consider?
So, piece of advice – scorecards and KPIs are great, paying attention to the big picture is better.

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  • Paul Biedermann

    Like you, Tom, I also went back to the beginning to make sure it wasn’t a trick. In fact, the bear was so obvious the second time around that I wondered if the review itself wasn’t some kind of trick (is there now the ability to change how something previously acted with some new special code? HTML5 anyone?)

    BMW recently produced a similar brain-spinner as you pointed out in another post, so I also wonder if it now takes some new cognitive-find to get advertising noticed and spread virally. Is good, classical creative dead or is it just harder to do and get noticed in the way these “psychological thrillers” are able to do?

    Anyway, your main point is well taken: seeing the forest for the trees is really important, especially when there are moonwalking bears!

  • Jill Manty

    I got the 13 and the bear- but also figured that the awareness had to be trickier than just counting. On the other hand, as an ad, I’m not sure this one passed. Once I got past the moonwalking bear, I tuned out and realized when I finished reading that I had no idea what the ad was even for. I’m sure there’s a lesson there, too. Something about being too clever for one’s own good, perhaps?

  • CarlSorvino

    I got 13 and the I saw the bear. I still don’t get it ;)

  • Chase Adams

    I’ve seen this before but there was a gorilla. It’s such an amazing example of awareness.

    Something that I’d never thought of before that you brought up was the scorecard. Just being aware of life around us makes our score ‘better’ by default.

    Great post Tom!

  • Guest

    that vid was awesome! LMAO

  • Abigayle Soderstrom

    Comparing the viral vid to your marketing philosophy is great, although I haven’t thought about the video that way. I guess focusing on too much specifics will render your attention low for other areas.

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