How do you create hype over a “toy” nobody has given a flying feather about for years? Play an endless stream of commercials where you know very active members of the Internet community will be looking.
I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the usual annoying-ass Christmas commercials for Gak, the weird slime stuff produced by Nickelodeon and NSI International, aired several times during the highly anticipated season premier of a certain cartoon last Saturday. I didn’t notice because I was suffering from a League of Legends induced hangover and went into a coma during commercials, but a lot; and I mean a lot, of other people did.
It would be hard not too, for a conscious person. It is traditional for 3 or more of the various Gak ads to run in a a row. One can only hear a burping voice exclaim “Gak! Gak! Gak!” 800 times per commercial before it gets lodged in your brain like the question of whether or not you turned the burner off after making tea.
The result? Internet memes by the buhzillons by noon, as well as Tumblr pages and songs involving Gak. It was a shit-storm of Gak related nonsense. Gak had played for a chance to win the Internet, and instantly won. The ooze gained more more popularity (and in some cases, scorn) in one day than it had collectively accumulated since it first hit the market in 1992.
It is just slime, after all; nothing we hadn’t seen before. It was pretty boring by the time Nickelodeon decided to re-brand it.
The question is, will more people buy the generally ignored gunk now that it has “gone viral”, so to speak? I think it will see some increase in sales. The people who saw the ads and launched Gak into brief Internet stardom will probably buy it for themselves or friends, just to be goofy. After all, these are the same people who have been inexplicably compelled to buy a lot of little plastic figures they wouldn’t have even looked at three years ago.
As for whether this was on purpose, I don’t know. I don’t think so. The commercials were age-appropriate for the station, time slot, and show. The Gak commercials are known to be repetitious. However, I don’t know how much of a coincidence it was that the entire first commercial block during the encore performance of the premier the following day was for Gak. I can’t help but think somebody was paying attention, and did that on purpose.
The more important question is; can the flash-mob mentality of the Internet be used to create instant demand for a product? Maybe we’ll know better after the holidays and the sales reports for GAK come in. In the meantime, there area several other things the Internet has made popular that I would like to get the statistics on some day. Bacon, for example. Look at all the bacon-related crap you can get these days. Look at all the people going nuts over bacon. That crap started on the Internet, just like Chuck Norris jokes. But the Chuck Norris folks lacked vision. They saw T-shirts and bumper stickers. They failed to create Chuck Norris flavored toothpaste and Chuck Norris scented wallets.