With marketing budgets being slashed in the “new economy”, low-cost/high-return word-of-mouth advertising is going to be more relevant than ever.A new viral video spreading its way across Chinese forums shows a Shanghai woman arguing with a tow truck driver. Despite her Chevrolet Captiva‘s rear wheels being hitched to the tow truck, she jumps in her SUV and drives away, with tow truck in tow.
Commenters on this post, as well as the YouTube page, are quick to cry foul and call the video a fake–a staged viral ad created by Chevy to tout the hauling power of the Captiva.
Ethically I don’t see anything wrong with the use of viral marketing (at least in this case). Even if it is a fake, it’s a darn clever one. It’s funny, it’s relatable, and–fake or not–it doesn’t fool the viewer by breaking any sort of trust.
So, I’m not entirely sure why commenters are dismissing the video outright simply because it might have been staged. Could it be the offense of being advertised to unwittingly? The idea that ads must be distinctly identified as such? What?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below on the matter and on the ethics of viral marketing at large.