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“Learn for Life” ad goes viral: Can real orgs learn from hoax? February 6, 2014

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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A new public service announcement is going viral. The ad released in January shows two teen couples skipping school and heading for the beach. They drink, remove most of their clothes, and frolic in the sand. Then, suddenly and surprisingly, one of the girls steps on a landmine and blows up. The rest of the group goes in the same bloody, gory manner. At the end of the commercial, a warning flashes, “This is what happens when you slack off. Stay in school.” The ad was apparently created for the Learn for Life Foundation of Western Australia, a non-profit organization. In reality, the ad is a hoax created by filmmaking duo Henry Inglis and Aaron McCann. The two used the opportunity to create something unsettling-but-funny to promote their work. The public took the bait.

What’s most interesting about this ad is its viral potential. In almost a week alone, it received over 13 million views on YouTube. As some critics pointed out, it mastered B-movie horror comedy in ways that clearly registered with some, and horrified others. But it did the trick, and there’s obviously something to be learned from this genre of hoax ads.

To see the ad yourself, watch it here:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What are the characteristics of viral videos?

2.  How did the video above contain those characteristics?

3.  What can other organizations learn from the “Learn for Life” hoax campaign?