One Sure-Fire Way to Get Online, ‘Marketing’ Attention; shock!

Thu 1st January 2015

A video showing a Chinese couple supposedly having sex in a Uniqlo changing room has gone viral, causing a serious stir for the country’s strict internet censors. Uniqlo is Asia’s biggest clothing retailer. It’s a 71 second clip, shot on a Smartphone at the clothing chain’s flagship store in Beijing, and features a man telling the woman to kiss him as he films their antics in the mirror.

In the background, a Uniqlo store announcement can clearly be heard, welcoming customers and advising them that fitting rooms are on the second and third floors. Online searches for the Japanese clothing brand soared this week after the viral spread of the video, and hundreds have been flocking to take selfies with the store in the background.

Shoppers taking a saucy selfie at the Beijing store. Image – Fred DuFour/AFP/Getty Images.

Now that the Cyberspace Administration of China has chastised two of the country’s main Internet companies for allowing the video to go viral, it had been circulating mainly on Sina Corp.’s microblogging site and Tencent Holding Ltd.’s popular mobile message app. However, the agency summoned senior management from the two companies for confrontational and direct reprimands on Wednesday, and by Thursday the sex tape was difficult to locate. Beijing police have also announced it would investigate. Chinese law bans the manufacture of obscene material while cyber-rules ban that its spread online. Unsurprisingly, Uniqlo has denied any involvement in the video, also stating “we would like to remind the public to uphold social morality and use our fitting rooms in a correct and proper way”. The fitting rooms have now become a euphemism for ‘hot spots’ among China’s web users, who are urging other clothing retailers to enlarge their fitting rooms to attract new clientele. A horny couple just succumbing to a quick thrill, and presumably unsuspecting of the repercussions of mass online coverage and backlash? Or is it an ingenious marketing stunt by Uniqlo, to boost both media presence and sales? Either way, Uniqlo is getting much more attention.

“There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about.”
Oscar Wilde.

As it’s been proven time and time again, people are more likely to share something if they have a strong, emotional response to it. A study of the New York Times ‘most emailed’ list found the articles that made the list, tended to fall into one of four categories: awe-inspiring, emotional, positive or surprising. Worthy of noting from this find, isn’t so much that people like to feel emotions when they engage with a piece of content, it’s more that when it has an effect and the content actually makes them cry, exclaim, feel inspired, shocked or happy – they want to share that experience with others.
Regardless of whether Uniqlo intended to get the media attention it’s got, here are some top viral marketing campaigns of all time…

Old Spice, February 2010 – With many further, funny follow-on videos, this particular advert made Old Spice the brand that marketers globally, wanted to work with. This original video has 49.5 million views to date.

Bodyform, October 2012 – ‘Bodyform Responds: The Truth’ – although it has been disputed whether the actual Facebook comment was genuine or a set-up, this video response from Bodyform’s CEO became a hit with over 5.6 million YouTube views.

Kmart, April 2003 – ‘Shop My Pants’ was promoting their shipping service. It proved an instant hit with the original getting over 21.8 million YouTube Views.

Red Bull, October 2012 – ‘Space Jump’ – breaking three world records, Felix Baumgartner completed the iconic space jump for Red Bull. The highlights on Red Bull’s site alone, have over 37.4 million views.

@Fishhookcareers we want to know whether you think the Uniqlo ‘tape’ was intentional marketing or coincidental in its effect of boosting media attention and sales? What has been your favourite viral marketing campaign of all time?

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