As you may be aware, yesterday, Wednesday, January 06, 2015 was a historic day on the internet.
Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to Periscope to watch a giant puddle sitting at the edge of a pedestrian walkway in Newcastle, England. More accurately, they watched people navigate around, or in some cases, leap heroically over the puddle. Within hours, #DrummondPuddleWatch was trending on Twitter.
But that wasn’t all. It’s not a viral phenomenon until brands start to get in on the action. Here are a few prize tweets:
— Domino’s Pizza UK (@Dominos_UK) January 6, 2016
— Star Wars UK (@StarWarsUK) January 6, 2016
And so on.
I’m not one to begrudge brands taking part in a profound, communal event such as #DrummondPuddleWatch. I think there’s value to brands engaging and responding to an event as a member of a larger community. But that is not the future of branded content.
The future of branded content is finding more puddles to stream.
Drummond Central is the name of the small agency with the brilliant idea to stream the puddle just outside of their office and have since claimed it was only to amuse themselves, not the entire UK. Naivete or not, there’s no going back after Drummond, and surely they know that. The impromptu social experiment has proved that a complete anti-event, such as the existence of a puddle in a country where it rains a lot, can be just as compelling as a presidential debate or the VMAs.
This is not a moment to be taken lightly. It’s only a matter of time before other agencies explore or create similar anti-events as content for their clients. In the process, we could be looking at a new genre of programming altogether, a kind of micro-reality TV for the mobile consumer. If you consider naturally occurring phenomenon alone, the possibilities are endless. Next it’ll be the suspense of people approaching a patch of ice in a parking lot.
Or, as I once witnessed in college, a raccoon trying to make her way down a giant tree during a lightning storm with only one hand, because she was carrying her baby in the other. The whole episode took about 30 minutes. She was breaking the problem down into its component parts, one step at a time. That had a dining hall of about 400 kids on the edge of their seats as she slipped, scuttled and weaved her way down the tree (by the way: she made it to the bottom and the place erupted in a cheer). Not difficult to imagine that streaming on Periscope, brought to you by Petco.
Brands usually find a way.
In truly upsetting news, the Drummond puddle has since been drained by a couple government workers. #RIPDrummondPuddle
Credit: Drummond Central Litd/Twitter