The Latest Web-Enabled Game: Worldwide-Hide-And-Seek

Most everyone does stupid stuff as a kid; you play games and try things with only the most minimal concern for personal safety (“Sure we were shooting each other with BB guns–but we were wearing shop goggles!”).  It’s the nature of kids–particularly boys–to chase a thrill, mindless of dangers or consequences.  It’s why my nephews wrestled on a sidewalk in their Sunday best outside a First Communion Ceremony…

The Jiffy Pop Has Landed...

The Jiffy Pop Has Landed...

But six year old Falcon Heene took this phenomenon to a whole ‘nother level yesterday…a level estimated between 8000′ and 8500′, according to Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden.

As the quickly-christened “Balloon Boy,” he owned CNN for five hours…

He earned a minute-by-minute blog on the NY Times…

#Balloon Boy was Twitter’s #2 trending topic  yesterday, and was number one when aggregating all Balloon Boy variants.

Balloon Boy re-routed all of Colorado’s Northbound air traffic for fifteen full minutes…

In the cold light of a new day, the Balloon Boy may turn out to be a hoax–and he clearly never left the ground–but it’s head-spinning how he managed to garner national and even global attention so quickly.  Apparently the formula of GRAVE RISK TO A CHILD + FOCUSED ATTENTION & INTENTIONS + HAPPY FEEL GOOD RESOLUTION = CULTURE STOPPING MOMENT.  Of course, much like how the passing of any obsession brings up vague embarrassment over one’s outsized collective enthusiasm once the moment passes, a lot of people are backpedaling today.  Some are downright angry and considering pursuing potential charges.

Still, the notion of apply this lesson to create breakthrough for a product naturally crosses any marketer’s mind.  Imagine the impact such an event would have in the marketplace–imagining how truly awesome it could be to span our brutally-fragmented media environment with one compelling story…  It would solve so many media allocation issues.

But then, even if we could determine the precise factors behind this fast-rising phenomenon, we might not want to apply them to brands– the backlash risk would simply be too great and too virulent.

We’re glad Falcon’s safe.  But clearly, he’s no Captain Sully Sullenberger.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79