Wednesday June 2, 2010
Jon Reed looks at the phenomenon of facedown, tipping points and making things sticky.
Last week I was travelling back from Dublin reading a local Irish newspaper (which I always make a point of doing when I’m in another country... helps expand the mind!) and I stumbled across a story that really made me think either the world or I had gone mad!
The Irish Independent had reported a new craze linked to Facebook and Twitter where thousands of people all over the world are taking pictures of themselves laying down with their hands by their side in weird and wonderful places. Apparently it’s known as 'facedown'; a craze whereby ‘highlights’ includes a young man laying 'facedown' in a cheese counter in Tesco. Others balance on road sign, goalposts - you get the idea... According to the article, the idea came from an idea to ‘mess around’ with the regular concept of a tourist photo.
In my mind I was trying to redefine the word; ‘craze’, but then I thought: "Hey, the picture has made me smile so stop over analysing!"
The article got me thinking, how do these phenomenon and ideas become so popular and widespread so quickly? How can organisations use the principles of concepts like ‘laying down in weird places’ to market themselves and therefore get their brand in front of all the people who join such crazes?
A few years ago I read ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell...and with this in mind I thought about facedown - it's been around for years so what happened last week to make it go boom? Gladwell's book looks at how to hit that ‘tipping point’, how to hit critical mass, the boiling point, a place where the unexpected becomes expected.
We purple people generally have a lot of answers though I have to say I have no idea what suddenly 'tipped' facedown in Ireland last week. Gladwell would suggest it would have something to do with the extraordinary efforts of (well connected) people - he calls them ‘carriers’.
It strikes me that the epidemics such as facedown hit the tipping point because they represent fun, don't have commercial goals, make people smile and are transferred easily. Gladwell would call the phenonenom ‘sticky’. (i.e. they have a certain character that causes them to remain active in the recipients' minds. Moreover, they are deemed worthy of being passed on.) Organisations can use this principle to promote their brands.
But still the question for me is why last week, and not before or not next week. Having stumbled across facedown after it became viral, I'll never know, but maybe you can let me know if you know.
For more info on facedown, please see:
Enjoy these and keep an eye out to see if organisations are applying these principles to promote their brand in the wider sense. ‘Simples!’
Our version of facedown is our purple revolution. For details click here.