Throw it in the Landfill

One of the basest human behaviours is that people like to share, a remnant from our days as hunter-gatherers, where sharing food with others meant a group’s continued survival.

This social behaviour still exists some 200,000 years later, though obviously the mechanisms have changed.

Thanks to the forward march of technology over just the past decade, we have the ability to share whatever we can think of with virtually anyone. Whether we want to email a colleague an article, create a demo video of a product and show it to prospective customers, or even put a picture of what we had for lunch on a social network for our friends to chime in on, there are no limits - or there shouldn’t be, at least in theory.

As the adoption of technology has become more widespread, the playing field becomes more and more level.

When everyone has access to the same tools, they end up producing the same things.

I’ve recently been playing Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, which I am quite fond of.

The goal is to maneuver your character to the top of a large mountain using only a hammer. No amount of forward progress is guaranteed, and you are constantly at risk of falling down the mountain, back to the beginning of the game.

Foddy, prior to teaching game design at New York University, was a research fellow at Oxford University, and obtained his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Melbourne.

In narration, Foddy shares his thoughts on what our digital culture is and has become.

“Things are made to be consumed and used in a certain context, and once the moment is gone they transform into garbage. In the context of technology, those moments pass by in seconds… Maybe this is what digital culture is. A monstrous mountain of trash, the ash-heap of creativity’s fountain. A landfill with everything we ever thought of in it… Why make something demanding, if it just gets piled up in the landfill, filed in with the bland things?”

We live in a time where we as marketers are cramming ever more blogs, whitepapers, newsletters, social media posts, videos, presence, into the landfill of the internet, to use Foddy’s analogy.

The entire premise of content marketing is that people are looking for information to solve their individual problems, and if you can provide the answers they want, they’ll associate that value with your brand, eventually converting to being a paying customer.

To that end, you have thousands of different companies offering slightly different takes on the same information, in a never-ending battle for exposure within the venue of search engine rankings.

The desire to share information is not the problem.

It is the medium that is the problem.

Among the debris of the landfill, where everyone does the same things with the same platforms, how do you stand out?

Defy expectations. Make something radically different, or intentionally difficult.

Electronic Arts has been releasing games in the Madden NFL franchise since 1988.

As a yearly effort, marketing efforts typically revolve around the biggest football players, and any gameplay or technical changes or improvements over the previous iteration.

For Madden NFL ’15, the series’ 26th installment, Electronic Arts hired Heat and Grow.

In collaboration with Google Creative Partnerships, the two agencies created the GIFerator.

The GIFerator allowed users to design and share custom .gifs featuring digital versions of their favourite players engaging in jukes, or, more popularly, obnoxious touchdown dancing.

For their efforts, this creative team won six Lions at Cannes, and the GIFerator was named by Daily Dot as the meme of the year.

Blog posts and social media are safe things to do. Companies like safe. Safe is easy.

Nothing in life worth doing is safe.