Here at marketingmag.com.au were focused on trying to bring the Australian marketing community great content in the form of news articles, blog posts and marketing-related videos. If its relevant to marketers, well be looking to get it onto the site.

So we were excited to hear about the unofficial Guinness Viral video ad, which was running on YouTube. Its funny, risque, creative and entertaining, so it was an easy decision for us to take that content and bring it to you. After all, we want to make you laugh as well as think, and we knew this ad would do just that.

So its sad then that Diageo, the parent company for Guinness dont seem to feel the same way about our community. Theyve decided that they dont want this unofficial viral to be shared and discussed by industry professionals, and so theyve issued a Cease and desist notice to YouTube, who in turn have pulled the video from our channel.

This is the text of the email I received from YouTube, and the actual email is pictured at the bottom of this post:

Dear Member,

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Diageo, PLC claiming that this material is infringing:

Fake viral Guinness ad: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul6urerK5BQ

Please Note: Repeated incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTubes copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Centre to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

Sincerely,

YouTube, Inc.

Hmmm. I understand how the person that originally created the fake viral ad might well be sanctioned for copyright infringement, but I think its getting a little heavy handed to clamp down on us. I made it very clear in the title of the video that this was a fake viral ad, not produced or endorsed by Guinness.

In the interests of debate around this growing trend of fake viral campaigns, youd think that this kind of forum would be the ideal place to discuss this particular ad. But no. It appears that Diageo want to control the brand image of Guinness, up to the point of ignoring their target market.

Copyright infringements aside, my biggest problem with this play from Diageo is that it ignores the fact that this video has been tremendously popular, both on our channel and on the channels of all the other YouTubers who have hosted the clip. Whats wrong with this brand awareness, even if it does associate Guinness with group sex?

Almost nobody (especially not if theyd watched it through MarketingMags channel) is going to watch this ad and genuinely believe that Guinness are endorsing or supporting group sex. But they might watch this ad and laugh, or be offended, but either way they are being engaged and, ahem, stimulated by the brand.

Why are Diageo pretending that millions of free product placements in someone elses smart creative clip is bad for business? And the bigger question is why do brands feel like they need to exert complete control over every kind of message around their products? People want to feel like they can connect with a brand, that they can develop a relationship with a brand, so why clamp down on people who are doing just that?

Its a bonehead play if you ask me, but its not the first time that a brand has misunderstood who really owns them: the customer.

Coke and the Mentos fiasco

Coca Cola showed how little fun they were prepared to let their consumers have witht heir brand when they reacted conservatively to an amazing user-generated viral video of Mentos causing Diet Coke fountains to explode in a choreographed display. Sounds amazing? It is. Watch the video below and then marvel at how stupid Diet Cokes response to the viral was:

Coke: We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try
experiments with it, says Coke spokeswoman Susan McDermott. She adds that the craziness with
Mentos … doesnt fit with the brand personality of Diet Coke.

What? Who do they think they are anyway? The brand personality is not controlled just by the brand, its an ongoing negotiation between the brand and the consumers. This means that if some of your consumers are really creative types, inclined to experiment with your product and create amazing publicity around the brand, perhaps you should support them and get involved in their conversation, get involved in their world.

The enjoyment that the consumer (and many people outside of your target market) experience in feeling like they own a little piece of the brand is tremendously valuable, so why come across like the overbearing schoolmaster and ruin everyones fun?

Compare Cokes response to that of Mentos, a company that clearly does care whether their customers are having fun in their lives:

Mentos: We are tickled pink by it, says Pete Healy, vice president of
marketing for the companys U.S. division. The company spends less than
$20 million on U.S. advertising annually and estimates the value of
online buzz to be over $10 million.

Coke finally realised the error of their ways and put their party hat on, allowing the Mentos experiments to become part of the brand identity. As Rohit Bhargava counsels in his latest book, isnt it better to have a brand that has bags of personality?

Customers just wanna have fun …

… and whats wrong with that? When its generating amazing buzz for your brand, good feeling among your target market (bottled Guinness is hardly the pick of the mythical morally-outraged older Guinness drinker we are being led to believe will find this off message) and a great PR opportunity, why do companies like Diageo have to come in and piss on the camp fire?

Congratulations Diageo. Youre officially a party pooper, such a great image to associate with your brands.

If you want to check out the ad, youll have to do it on someone elses channel. Here are a couple that (at time of writing) are still up: