In Depth

Real or Fake? Do We Even Care?

Is she a natural blonde? Only her hairdresser knows. Or so the saying goes.

But the same idea could apply to a lot of viral videos. For instance, a video appeared on Break earlier this month featuring an office worker flinging office supplies from his desk at co-workers. Comments on the site suggested viewers thought the video was real and that a co-worker had serendipitously captured the meltdown on a cell phone camera.

It turned out the video was created by Timur Bekmambetov, director of the upcoming movie “The Wanted” starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. And the video wasn’t “real.” It was a creation.

A different sort of clip landed on YouTube on June 10. It begins with the words “I secretly recorded my driving instructors” and then segues into clips of a teenager talking on his cell phone during driving school. You might think a kid really did secretly record his driving teachers.

In actuality, the video was created on behalf of Parrot, a European-based bluetooth technology company. It was designed by Parrot’s agency GroundZero, produced by production house Diligent LLC and distributed by viral seeding firm, the Feed Company.

The goal? To promote the use of a hands-free gadget from Parrot for talking on cell phones, especially in light of a new law in California and Washington that prohibits talking on mobile phones without a headset while driving.

You might have also come across a video for “Mother Candles” that celebrates all the gentleman callers a mom might have. The video was created by a small ad agency in London called Mother to demonstrate that the agency can produce viral campaigns for its clients. (The sound was mixed by Sound Lounge, who tipped me off to the campaign).

These videos are technically fake. But who cares? The audience doesn’t. Web video viewers seem to like the puzzle. That’s part of the allure of viral video. Figuring out the joke and then being in on it.

Their popularity also suggests that these sorts of underground campaigns will be the norm. Because even the video ad network Tremor Media is getting into viral marketing. It recently launched its first foray into viral marketing with a campaign for BikiniZone that’s very spoofy and sort of like a “campy infomercial.”

So go blonde, I say.