Geraldo’s Faulty Viral Verdict


Two execs from Chock Full o’ Nuts, the 89-year-old, Manhattan-based coffee company, now owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, recently visited Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice.

Their mission: Challenge the two teams, Vortex and Infinity, to create competing viral videos to promote Chock’s new single-serve coffees.

I heard something startling from one exec: “Chock is a fun, New York brand, so your viral video should feel different than a typical commercial.”

Fun? Since when? The Chock exec then instructed the teams to use GoPro cameras to produce action-packed and truly buzzworthy videos. Who’s the target audience? He never said.

Eric Trump, who, like his siblings Ivanka and Donald Jr., assists his father in many episodes, jumped in to advise the teams that Chock’s execs would judge the videos by three factors: creativity, brand messaging, and ultimate entertainment value.

Ah, there’s the error: entertainment value.
Odd and Cringeworthy

As I clearly demonstrated, after Super Bowl 2014, when I penned “Puppies Don’t Sell Beer,” the CEO’s job is to sell, not entertain. Entertainment never sells — it entertains.

Newsflash: the more entertaining your video or TV spot, the more it will fail as a sales tool. If you’re not Steven Spielberg, stop trying to entertain your customers.

Team Vortex chose Lorenzo Lamas as project manager. Geraldo Rivera, while not the project manager, became prime influencer and star of Vortex’s video — a nice, respectful video that blended Chock’s legacy with the new, single-serve product. I liked it.

Team Infinity chose Leeza Gibbons as project manager and decided, with its bizarre video, to titillate with a catfight and gratuitous sex. Missing? The product, the value proposition. I found it odd and cringeworthy.

Millennial Mentality

The Chock execs determined that Vortex had played it safe, that its creation felt more like a commercial than a viral video. But, the execs allowed, Vortex had successfully promoted the product. Even Donald Trump liked it.

On the other hand, the Chock execs assessed Infinity’s video as risky and edgy, with the potential “to go very, very viral” — but missing the brand messaging. That should have been end of story. Yet, the Chock execs decided that this worthless video was much better, that Team Infinity had won: a faulty viral verdict.

Result: Donald Trump needlessly fired Lorenzo Lamas, the “responsible” project manager. Geraldo survived.

Let me reiterate: Chock’s execs liked the “potentially” viral video with no branding message. What does this tell you? The Chock Full o’ Nuts C-suite is full o’ nuts.

In Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding, I assert that most people in charge of branding know nothing about it. The aforementioned Celebrity Apprentice vignette is but more proof.

Inexplicably, Chock’s goal was to create a viral video, not sell the product. This is beyond stupid and irresponsible, beyond a waste of shareholder cash — and a result of Millennial Mentality: the world revolves around “likes” and “followers.”

This is why most branding is amateurish at best and absolutely sucks at worst.

In Super Bowl 2015, GoDaddy already has had to withdraw a puppy commercial, produced to entertain and go viral, because animal activists complained. Wasted money that doesn’t sell products.

The Super Bowl commercials that do air next Sunday will make you laugh, maybe make you cry. Here’s what they won’t do: make you buy.
Parting Advice to CEOs

If you spend money on very, very viral videos, your treasury will contract an infection — and your company will fail.

Your goal is to sell, not to entertain. What’s the verdict for your video?
POSTSCRIPT #1: Carls Jr’s Viral Sexy Ad, with Charlotte McKinney, Isn’t Selling Burgers


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2015 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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