How does your video spread around the internet? Do people talk about it? Do they share links via email? Do they post it on Facebook? Or…
Do they upload it?
Are you one of those fuckwads who has a fucking problem with my gay son getting married?
FCKH8.com is a new initiative by non-profit media campaigner Luke Montgomery in support of LGBT issues. The website gives a big, ol’ Fuck You to the haters of gay marriage and the proponents of denying gay couples benefits like health insurance.
I came across FCKH8 because a gay friend from high school had posted the video to his Facebook wall, and it had turned up in my newsfeed. The bright pink background caught my eye, and the “You will be offended.” tagline inspired the final clickthrough.
Although the embed contains enough expletives to ward off some viewers, especially if they’re viewing in their workplace, it’s a professionally produced video: great aesthetic quality, good caliber of sound, and an energetic cast that gets the point of “screwing hate” across strongly and proudly.
And the marketing has done pretty well so far. Spanning across all of the major sharing sites — Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon — the pink FCKH8 message has already as of yesterday raised close to $30,000 selling T-shirts and other schwag.
But the most interesting part of the FCKH8 campaign is the video strategy. And this strategy is bringing a whole new perspective to how we think about virality, spreadability, whatever you want to call it.
However, yesterday, the FCKH8 Twitter account announced that the video had been flagged for removal: “YOUTUBE CENSORS: H8ers campaigned to flag R main video. Uploaded again! Share the FCK out of it!,” seemingly by anti-GLBT protestors.
The interesting note to be made about this message, though, is that “Share the FCK out of it” meant more than just “Share the video, embed it, send the link to your friends, etc.” Instead, dozens of users were inspired and allowed to reupload the original FCKH8 video on their own YouTube channels. Searching “FCKH8″ on YouTube yields “96″ videos, most of which are the original with its iconic hot pink background, with a sprinkling of other response and support vids.
To which I have to say… Fuck. Yes.
When we think about online video strategy by brands, entertainment companies, and producers, we tend to focus on two elements:
1. A piece of media uploaded in lieu of the copyright holders is considered by them, and then — given a positive reception of the illegal uploading — allowed to remain online, an existence from which the copyright holders can reap additional monetary benefits (usually in the form of ads).
2. A piece of media is intended to be spread by users, moving from the “influentials” to their followers and hopefully spreading amongst diverse communities. But this usually includes spreading one piece of media through multiple groups. If there are multiple pieces of media to be spread, companies tend to follow some sort of “transmedia” initiative, where the brand or media is adapted — or sometimes just copied without any change — to other media forms (such as from TV to film to webisode, etc.).
But with this FCKH8 case study, I believe it’s one of the first times when an initiative to spread has allowed users to copy the original media and subsequently spread it, be in via the same or entirely new communities and networks. If we think in terms of the current discourse on piracy, this is astounding.
What makes this case study doubly interesting is that we’re talking about collaborative disruption. Although this initiative is small (less than 100 videos), they are in practice bombing YouTube with repetitive information. Yes, it’s in the face of censorship — although it appears that YouTube has collaborated with the videomakers to reupload the original video after it was flagged for removal. And we can’t necessarily call it “bombing,” because all of the videos either have the same title or append a [MIRROR] tag to the video. In other words, it wouldn’t be difficult for YouTube to suppress the collective action.
But we can compare this to the DDoSing recently by 4chan against the MPAA and other anti-piracy websites or even Justin Bieber fans taking over Twitter’s trending topics (and Bieber’s subsequent complaint about the removal of his fans’ signs of devotion).
Of course, the benefit of FCKH8′s grassroots mass uploading is the eventual spread of a meaningful human rights campaign. Go check out the video, and share it with your friends!