Awful Industry Viral

By Kevin Ash - 25/07/2012

Viral videos usually work because they're shocking, funny, very witty or show something unusual or dramatic happening. It has to be enough to get whoever sees one to forward a link to friends and connections, who hopefully do the same.

They can be hugely entertaining: click on Triumph Rocket 3 manufacture and enjoy one of the motorcycle industry's best. It's entertaining, witty, original and very watchable, you'll probably look at it more than once and chances are, send the link to some friends too. Which is the point...

The Motorcycle Industry Association attempted a viral designed to coincide with last month's Ride to Work Day, and it was none of the above. Okay, and here's a link to see this one too: Ride To Work 'Viral'.

It looks like the sort of thing a bunch of sixth formers would think up after a few too many Desperados: smutty, clunkingly slow, containing a single clichéd joke that's painfully drawn out over the entire video with an ending that makes you cringe.

The only depth it has comes in generating embarrassment on several different levels. I was a victim of the first when I was watching the video for the first time while my 10 year-old daughter was in the room, and quickly had to hide the window. The second level follows on from that: I'm embarrassed for and about the motorcycle industry, which on the one hand wants to come across as a professional, nationally active body appealing to a wide audience, yet which is now being officially represented by something crass, smutty, not very clever and worse, which doesn't get its point across at all well.

I have an older daughter who I let see the video without prejudice: her initial reaction was, "Eewwww, what's that about?" and when pressed on the video's message wasn't at all sure but thought maybe it was that you ought to wear leather while riding a motorcycle. Her screwed up face confirmed she really didn't want to see people as old as her parents doing that sort of thing, so that's the young audience the video is primarily aimed at put right off by it. Well done bike industry. Clearly it was only older people responsible for this vid because youngsters are finding it creepy and repulsive.

It's also embarrassing from a production point of view, with the single, very old joke being milked dry by the laboured dialogue and the nearest we get to breaking away from stereotyping being the girl riding a motorcycle while the boy is on a scooter. Rather ironic when the whole thing revolves around one big stereotype about leather.

An odd phenomenon has come from this, something I've noted before about the motorcycle industry. The official line from many of the importers is, this is a good thing as it gets motorcycling noticed and it's aimed at a particular audience (which it misses...), never mind what people like me think. Yet speak to individuals in the various bike companies and a large majority whimper at the awfulness of it. Seems like the bike industry is also out of touch with the very people who work in it!

The video has now had 125,000 views despite some heavy promotion (and a viral should need none after being sent out into the world, it's self promoting by definition). It's getting very few now, so at best it's hardly set the internet on fire. The Triumph one has been around much longer of course, but that's been seen 1.2 million times, which underlines the point: I don't disapprove because I'm in any way prudish, it's simply because the bike industry video is awful at doing what it's supposed to do.

A shame they didn't just ask Triumph to do it.

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