Really impressive or unusual events caught on video are among the paths to viral glory. This simple fact causes many brands to fake impressive or unusual videos in an attempt to reach a wider audience. If the fake is good enough (but not perfect) the buzz around whether it’s real or fake actually adds to its chance of going viral.
This week, we have one such video, ostensibly of a chance occurrence in Cannes, which has had over 2 million views.
The owner of the camera swears that this was a serendipitous event, both in the comments of his YouTube video and in this interview he gave shortly afterwards.
I call shenanigans. Almost every amazing real-life video gets commenters shouting ‘fake’, but I really think that this one is. It’s a good one, I’ll grant you, but here are the reasons I think it’s advertising the camera.
1. Right there in the title of the video, it doesn’t say ‘Seagull stole my camera’, it says ‘Seagull stole GoPro’ (properly capitalised, and everything!).
2. GoPro, in case you didn’t know, make really tough little cameras specifically for extreme sports and similar high impact activity. And they advertise them mostly through videos that people shoot while skydiving, skiing off cliffs, mountain biking down rough terrain, bungee jumping, etc. The nature of the videos advertise the resilience of the camera. Just like this one.
3. GoPro cameras aren’t generally used for nature photography. I have reason to believe (see points 5-7) that the cameraman owns other cameras, perhaps more suited to filming a seagull at night (because that’s a completely normal thing to do).
4. If this was unplanned, I think it would be a lucky thing indeed to be able to find the camera. Ever. The flight path is distorted somewhat by the fisheye lens of the camera, but it sure looks like the bird flies out of sight to me.
5. This was filmed in Cannes, France, and uploaded on June 23rd. So what? Take a look at the beginning of that interview video again – the camera owner, Lukas Karasek, is being interviewed as part of the Cannes Lions Festival. An ‘International Festival of Creativity’. It’s a festival for advertisers.
6. He’s there because he’s an advertiser. He writes and makes ads. Not print ads, banner ads, billboards or radio ads. No. Video ads.
7. The ads he makes have, in the past, resorted to fakery, such as in this promo for his company, in which he doesn’t really risk his life skateboarding down a massive bridge structure.
Now of course, it’s possible it’s all a coincidence. It’s possible an ambitious young video ad maker with a history of faking impressive stunts on video, in town for a festival of the most creative advertising in the world, tried to film a seagull by placing a super tough compact camera usually reserved for extreme sports videos on the ground in front of said seagull, somehow tracked the camera down after the bird had flown away with it, and kindly gave a nod to the manufacturers of the camera when titling his Youtube video, allowing them to add it to the ranks of extreme demonstrations of the camera’s toughness when users search for their name on YouTube.
Sure, it’s possible. GoPro are saying nothing.
So, what can we learn from this? If anything this lucky should ever happen to your company, let people debate whether it is real or fake. Do NOT admit it is a fake, just let them go on talking about you and sharing your video.
What do you think? Real or fake?