The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Viral Ads in Sheep's Clothing

Corporations are making fake homemade videos on YouTube. Case in point.

By Allison Martell 4 Sep 2008 |

Allison Martell is a freelance journalist. She never used to watch television, but has been ruined by wireless broadband.

image atom
Foolin' around with the truth?

This week, after hitting his ball into a water hazard, golf messiah Tiger Woods walked on water. At least, that's what happened on YouTube. The clip depicts a clever illusion, likely to elicit some guffaws from, if not you, at least the one golf-obsessed person you know. But that person might or might not recognize the logo at the end of the video -- Electronic Arts, a major video game developer.

On their YouTube channel, EA Sports writes that they posted the video "as a response to a fan video," in which "Levinator 25," demonstrates a new feature in EA's latest golf game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. Levinator 25's voice-over tells us that the Jesus Shot is a new option in which the virtual Woods can make a shot while standing on water.

"You seem to think your Jesus Shot video was a glitch in the game," taunts the on-screen text in EA's video response, then continues, "It's not a glitch. He's just that good." After that, the "real" Tiger Woods walks on water.

An Electronic Arts spokesperson confirmed via e-mail that EA had no involvement whatsoever in Levinator 25's fan video, but EA certainly teed off its authenticity and subsumed it into their viral ad campaign. And it was a highly successful one -- an EA media release says the EA vid got more than half a million views in the first 48 hours alone. Would that have happened without Levinator 25?

Brands are eager to tap into YouTube's huge audience and harness the power of Internet memes, and as a result, more and more YouTube clips are advertisements -- sometimes ones in disguise.

A classic case of this is what gets called the amazing ball girl video. The clip, which has attracted millions of views, shows a ball girl taking an amazing leap to catch a foul baseball. There are all the ingredients of folk hero fame: an ordinary person completes an impossible feat, shows up the star outfielder and finishes off with a hat tip of endearing modesty.

In fact, the clip is a viral ad for Gatorade, and the ball girl was a stunt woman hooked up to wires.

Jill Kinney, a spokesperson for Gatorade, told the Chicago Tribune that "even though many viewers thought the outlandish catch was somehow a fake -- which, indeed, was the result of special effects -- they were still entertained by it."

But I feel cheated when I realize that the cool video I just forwarded to my friends isn't a brilliant creation from some kid's basement, or a fantastic event caught on tape, but a viral ad developed in a sleek Manhattan boardroom.

As it turns out, EA is well versed in viral marketing. Earlier this year they hired a firm called GoViral to promote another game, FIFA Street 3, with this amazing clip of hybrid capoeira-soccer tricks. GoViral lays out their strategy publicly, and as with other viral campaigns, whether the tricks are real or staged is beside the point.

"Some moves seem too improbable while others could very well be real," reads the GoViral document, "and that makes it a very interesting conversation starter which draws the audience closer to the brand." When it comes to viral advertising, truth and fiction are irrelevant, so long as lots of people are paying attention.

Related Tyee stories


Read more: Video, Labour + Industry

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll