“Would you attend nude gaming parties if they were real?” That’s the question that a new Thinkmodo campaign for XtendPlay asks. The campaign, a mockumentary clip of a nude gaming party, has been viewed over 750,000 times in the first week and has sparked conversation all over the web. I had the opportunity to ask Thinkmodo co-founder Michael Krivicka a few questions about this campaign, the art of the hoax, and how he and Thinkmodo have managed to start conversation time after time through online video. Read on to find out what he had to say.
Before we get to my interview with Michael, you have to see this naked gaming video, if you haven’t already. It features a bunch of naked New York gamers sitting around in their birthday suits, playing video games at a nude gaming party. The party is “sponsored” by XtendPlay, an accessory for your Xbox 360 or Playstation controller that frees you up from “the cramping and fatigue that ‘naked’ controllers can cause.”
Within days, the campaign received coverage on sites around the world from the Daily Mail and The Sun to websites in Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. Everyone wanted to know if nude gaming parties were real or if this was a hoax, and the conversation and comments that came out of the campaign have been hilarious so far—comments like, “They are playing Call of Booty,” “Ooopps, just grabbed the wrong joystick,” and “This is the naked truth about gaming.” (FYI—Xwerx will be holding a caption contest on their site this week, giving away free XtendPlay units to some of the funniest comments.)
While some viewers took this seriously, it was never actually intended as a “hoax”. Michael Krivika’s co-founder at Thinkmodo, James Percelay, told the Daily Mail, “The art form is progressing where people presume now that these videos are hoaxes. We’re entering into an understanding that, it’s kind of the implicit agreement now where the audience just wants to know how we did it. It’s almost the way you go to a magic show. You know it’s not real, but you still want to sit down and figure out how that guy pulled a car out of his briefcase.” Thinkmodo’s previous viral stunts include The Shaving Helmet viral for HeadBlade and, most recently, their Times Square hack viral for the movie Limitless, which has been viewed over 3 million times.
While Thinkmodo’s focus is currently on hoax videos, Michael tells me that Thinkmodo doesn’t like the term “hoaxes.” “We call them ‘conversation starters.’ Each video is a ‘what if’ scenario to start conversations about something that has a product plugged in that we are promoting. This way we engage our viewers who ask themselves, ‘What if this was real?’ That opens conversations.”
I asked Michael about how they come up with their concepts and whether or not they test them out ahead of time to see if people believe they are real. He told me, “We don’t text a ‘hoax’ concept but we do a lot of research on it first to see if our idea has been done before. That is not because we want to stay original, but because of SEO reasons. So when someone Googles certain key words such as ‘Shaving Helmet’ or ‘Times Square Hack’ or ‘Nude Gaming Party’ then you will ONLY find our campaigns and nothing else. That is critical for the campaign. So a lot of strategic thinking goes into creating a viral concept like that.”
I was curious about where the idea for the Nude Gaming Party video came from. Michael told me, “The product we are promoting is a gaming accessory. That means our target audience are gamers. Gamers are open to fun and crazy things so we wanted to create something edgy and spicy that would get them talking about this product.”
Michael points out that, “You can’t always go ‘edgy’ with viral campaigns for certain brands. Especially brands who have an established image and are very scared to do the spicy things we do. But the fact is, what we do works and it works extremely well. Each of our campaigns delivers amazing results by creating global press and media buzz and directly boosting sales and web traffic for every client. We get daily emails from companies who want to ‘go viral’ but then they give us a list of things we cannot do. WTF? You have to step out of your comfort zone and do something creative and spice things up to get people talking.”
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.