Cannes Lions Twitter David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff advises brands to 'Let the audience decide what's funny' to grow social reach


By Stephen Lepitak, -

June 15, 2014 | 4 min read

David Hasselhoff has advised brands to "let the audience decide what's funny,' when it comes to effectively using social media channels, while participating in a social experiment run by Golin Harris at Cannes.

Speaking to The Drum about the #HofforNot experiment that aims to discover how wide a reach the power of Hasselhoff's brand can go. The experiment is supported by a game involving the Baywatch and Knightrider actor to present an example of the power of engagement and competition for campaigns. Hasselhoff explained that he saw platforms such as Twitter as allowing him to have fun and "have a laugh". Speaking about how brands use social, he discussed an advert he had recently shot which would be sent to a small audience, however the behind the scenes footage, he said, would be sent out generally for audiences to find and enjoy if they wanted."You throw that all out and let the audience decide what is funny and they will make it a hit." He later added: "Advertisers need to learn to be entertaining, funny and fun, let the audience decide."
Leading the experiment was Golin Harris head of social, Neil Kleiner, who revealed that since the #hoffornot experiment was launched on Wednesday 11 June, it had reached 64.2m people through social media, while the 45 minute seminar which opened the Cannes Lions Festival for this year, saw it reach another 12 million people due to the social influence within the room. Within the 24 hour period around the seminar, the hashrag's reach had grown by 39 million following the launch of the #HofforNot game which challenged players to guess whether pictures were of Hasslehoff with people around Cannes or of his professional lookalike. The experiment itself is purely organic, with the agency choosing not to put any paid media behind it, although that decision was debated as more brands turn towards paying for social reach. Of general social media marketing, Kleiner warned that brands were mostly aiming to follow best practice, and as a result, and were beginning to sound the same. "The call to action is in the first sentence and no more than two paragraphs. Every brand is trying to optimise their comms and social channels to the point that it has become homogenised and bland. Actually everyone is trying to disrupt so desperately that they are disrupting in the same way," he explained. Of the volume of social media messages being produced, Kleiner described it as "a bombardment of noise" which made it difficult to achieve stand out. "It's harder now than it ever was because everyone is talking at once and everyone sounds the same. Everyone is desperately trying to foster engagement and that air of desperation is palpable. When you look at brands like Newcastle Brown Ale, they don't care. They are different. They are not following best practice, they are not optimising, they just have the power of a consistent brand personality to entertain, inform and create content that people want to share. In a post rationalised way, that is a metaphor for David and his power. He is using the power of his personality. Over the years he has formed a personality that warms the hearts of millions, that changes the atmosphere of any room he walks into, and how could we articulate that digitally?"
To promote the game, Hasselhoff has also produced around 150 short messages to connected celebritities to ask them to engage and promote the hashtag in a further attempt to develop its reach. Messages were sent to famous names such as George Michael, Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell.
Cannes Lions Twitter David Hasselhoff

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